We can’t exactly figure out who’s funding what here, but it seems that producer (BATMAN BEGINS) Michael Uslan’s Comics Book Movies entertainment co has a new strong Japanese partner in Itochu Corp. which is now a “strategic investment partner.” No time to investigate, but here’s the PR:

Comic Book Movies, LLC, a new franchise-building entertainment company based in Hollywood established by veteran film producer Michael Uslan and partner M. Jonathan Roberts welcomes the Itochu Corporation as its strategic investment partner. As a result of this investment, Itochu Corporation now holds a 10% share of CBM and becomes CBM’s merchandise partner in Japan. The investment is a dramatic step for Itochu into the world of film, television and digital media, and is expected to bring significant long-term growth opportunities to both companies.

Comic Book Movies (CBM) was formed to build multi-media entertainment franchises based on classic American and international comic book and graphic novel properties as well as important Japanese Manga and Anime properties. Uslan is well known in the film and comic book industries as executive producer of the “Batman” franchise films, among others. Roberts made his mark in Hollywood over the last decade developing financing for a variety of films.

“We are very excited to make this announcement and by the commitment of this world leader in commerce,” says Mr. Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBM. “Itochu is one of the world’s largest trading companies and through this new partnership CBM will have direct access to the Asian markets both creatively and financially. With Itochu as our licensing and merchandise partner in Japan, CBM will emerge as the premier independent company.”

“This ground-breaking alliance is the first in what will be a series of key announcements over the next ninety days as Comic Book Movies, LLC will welcome a number of additional important strategic partners and will announce its impressive initial slate of branded feature films and DVD Original franchises,” reports Michael Uslan, Chief Creative Officer of CBM.

Mr. Uslan’s outstanding career in Hollywood spans nearly thirty years. He is an Emmy Award-winning producer (“Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?”) who recently donated over 38,000 comic books from his private collection to Indiana University’s prestigious Lilly Library. Under the leadership of Mr. Uslan and Mr. Roberts, CBM will produce movies with A-list and cutting edge directors, screenwriters and acting talent.

“Itochu Corporation strengthens the business of life-consumer industry in areas such as broadcasting communication, brand business and FamilyMart (Japanese convenience store). Itochu has a relationship with more than 100 companies whereby Itochu licenses and promotes entertainment content. As CBM’s merchandising partner in Japan, Itochu will work together with CBM in the license business and joint promotion of CBM movies. Itochu will also help in the world-wide promotion of CBM movies based on original Japanese content such as the works of Mr. Shotato Ishimori,” says Kazuaki Takada, Chief Operating Officer, Media Business Division, Aerospace, Electronics & Multimedia Company, ITOCHU Corporation.

A recent agreement between Ishimori Entertainment Inc., Comic Book Movies, LLC, Itochu Corporation, and Lotus Inc., CBM’s exclusive agent in Japan, provided a partnership to jointly develop motion picture franchises based on the original properties of the late Shotaro Ishinomori. Shotaro Ishinomori (1938-1998), often referred to as “The Walt Disney of Japan,” is one of the most famous Manga authors of all time, distinguished by his creations of more than 500 Manga characters.

“It is indeed an honor to be a part of this unprecedented business and creative alliance between East and West,” said Hiroshi Koizumi, President of Lotus Inc. “CBM is now poised to be the world’s premier independent production company producing comic book and Manga franchise content.”

Lotus is CBM’s exclusive agent for the procurement and development of existing and original motion picture content from Japan and Asia and was instrumental in the procurement of Itochu’s investment in CBM. Lotus also develops original motion picture content in collaboration with Japanese alliance partners and holds the Japanese and Asian distribution rights of motion pictures produced by CBM.

Films, video and animation derived from graphic novels and comics, have generated, near $25 billion-dollars in business at the box office, on DVDs, videogames, toys and other merchandising.