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Mark Schilling

  • Girl power boosts Japanese comic-book shoots


    It often seems as though everyproducer of commercial films in Japan is playing follow the leader, chasing afterhot novels, comic-books and TV shows - while seldom developing originalmaterial themselves.
  • Like father like son, new director for Toho


    Toho has announced that GoroMiyazaki, the 38-year-old son of anime auteur HayaoMiyazaki, will direct a new feature based on the third and fourth novels in Ursula K. Le Guin'sEarthsea saga. He will work with the animators of Studio Ghibli,his father's creative home since 1985. Toho will release the film in July of2006.
  • Memoirs star signs on for Penal Colony Of Love


    Koji Yakusho, lately seen inMemoirs Of A Geisha, is set to starin an adaptation of hit serial novel AiNo Ryukeichi (Penal Colony Of Love)for Japanese major Toho.
  • Yuya Yagira to make romantic drama


    Fuji TV has revealed plans to cast Yuya Yagira -- the 15-year-oldwinner of the 2004 Cannes Best Actor prize for his work in HirokazuKore-eda's NobodyKnows -in Sugar and Spice Fumizekka (Sugarand Spice - Great Flavour), a romantic dramabased on a bestselling novel by Amy Yamada.
  • Kadokawa to make One Missed Call 3


    Kadokawa HeraldPictures will make a third instalment in its hit One Missed Call horror series, company sources have revealed.Called Chakushin Ari Final (One MissedCall Final), the new film will be directed by Manabu Aso and will starMeisa Kuroki and Maki Horikita, two seventeen-year-old ingenues whohaveenjoyed a meteoric rise to the topthis year. The ...
  • Fuji TV, animation house join forces for digital studio


    TheFuji Television Network and Production IG animation houseplantojointlyunderwrite and launcha new post-productionstudio, Fuji TV has announced. Called FILM LLP (Fuji IG Laboratory for Movies),the new studio will open in January of 2006. Fuji TV will supply 86% andProduction IG the remaining 14% of the $2.4m (Y200m)initialinvestment.Equippedwith ...
  • Bashing scores top prize at Tokyo's FILMeX


  • Howl's Moving Castle scores DVD chart triple


    Three DVD editions of HayaoMiyazaki's hit animation Howl's MovingCastle grabbed the top three spots in the latest Oricon chart released onNov 22.
  • Animation master Otomo begins work on live-action sci-fi


    Animationauteur Katsuhiro Otomo, whose films, including Akira and Steamboy, have been widelyscreened internationally, has started production of a live-action feature.
  • What the Snow Brings (Yuki Ni Negau Koto)


    Dir: Kichitaro Negishi. Jap. 2005. 112mins.
  • The Whispering Of The Gods (Germania No Yoru)


  • Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (Qian Li Zou Dan Ji)


  • Negishi takes top honours at Tokyo festival


    Kichitaro Negishi's drama What the Snow Brings became the first Japanese film to win the Tokyo International Film Festival's top prize, the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix, since the fest's first edition in 1985.
  • Shochiku to finance Kore-eda period drama


    Japanese director HirokazuKore-eda (After Life, Nobody Knows) is set to make his firstperiod drama, Hana Yori Mo Naho, withShochiku providing financing and distribution.
  • Kadokawa to enter Chinese cinema market


    Kadokawa Holdings (HD), thecore company of Japan's Kadokawa media group, has announced plans to join with HongKong-based Sun Wah Group to build and manage 20 multiplex cinemas in mainlandChina.
  • Yoji Yamada to complete samurai trilogy


    Shochiku has announced that Yoji Yamada will complete the trilogy of samurai dramas he beganwith The Twilight Samurai - nominated for best foreign-language film atthe Oscars in 2004 - and The Hidden Blade.
  • Shinobi


  • Japan submits Blood And Bones as Oscar entry


    Yoichi Sai's Blood AndBones has been selected by the Japan Motion Pictures Association (Eiren) asJapan's nominee for the best foreign-language film AcademyAward.
  • Tokyo Project Gathering unveils full line-up


    The Tokyo Project Gathering,a new section of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), has announcedthe full list of twenty projects to be presented at the TIFF's main venue fromOct 26 to 28.
  • Japanese industry ramps up production


    Asthe Japanese industry continues to ramp up production, releasing 310 films in2004, compared with only 251 a decade earlier, producers are making more filmsinspired by, based on or remade from earlier hits, domestic or foreign.
  • Media Blasters takes gay samurai comedy to the US


    Media Blasters is to distribute KankuroKudo's hitJapanese gay samurai road comedy Yaji And Kita, The MidnightPilgrims in the US next summer, with plans to roll out to 40 screens in NewYork, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities.
  • Ninja title Shinobi set for US remake


    In a greeting to the audience on September 17, theopening day of his new film Shinobi, director Ten Shimoyama announcedthat a Hollywood company has offered to remake his ninja actioner - even beforeits release in Japan.
  • April Snow blankets Japanese box office


    Heo Jin-ho's romantic drama April Snowearned$2,8m on its opening weekend in Japan on 413 screens -- a new record for aKorean film in the Japanese market.
  • Tokyo festival unveils Asian focused line-up


    With a sharper focus on Asian and Japanese films, theTokyo International Film Festival (Oct 10-30) has announced its line-up for its18th edition.
  • Japan's Index Corp acquires Nikkatsu


    Japan's Index Corp, a company offering mobile phone and internet content services,has announced its acquisition of film producer and distributor Nikkatsu fromits current corporate owner, Namco.
  • Otani's Nana dominates Japanese entertainment charts


    Kentaro Otani's Nana,a female buddy movie based on a best-selling comic and featuring a theme songby the film's co-star Miki Nakajima, has achieved a rare entertainment worldtriple whammy: the film, comic and song are all number one in their respective charts.
  • The Great Goblin War (Yokai Daisenso)


  • The Suspect impresses at Japanese box office


    The Suspect, the fourth in the series of films that startedwith the massive local hit Bayside Shakedown, had an impressive opening at the Japanese box office overthe weekend.
  • Tokyo governor to produce wartime drama


    Tokyo governorShintaro Ishihara will script and executive produce a film about Japanesesuicide pilots in World War II. Called Kimi no tame ni koso Shiniiku (I WillDie for You), the film will be directed by Taku Shinjo and distributed byToei.
  • Japanese film takeover deal collapses


    Cable and broadband broadcaster Usen Corp. has revealed itwill not acquire film producer and distributor Nikkatsu from its parentcompany, game maker Namco.
  • Zhang Yimou to chair Tokyo Film Festival jury


    China's Zhang Yimou will chair the jury for the18th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival (October 22-30) with hisnew film, Riding Alone ForThousands of Miles, opening the proceedings.
  • Japanese producers look to spark animal magic


    Animal films are big again in Japan, after the thumpingsuccess last year of Yoichi Sai's Quill. Based on a true story, thisheart-warmer about a lovable blind dog and its grumpy middle-aged mastergrossed $20m (Y2.2bn) in Japan and was a hit across Asia.
  • Japanese Star Wars opening breaks galactic records


    Star WarsEpisode III - Revenge of the Sith has recorded 500,000 admissions for a grossof $6.3m (Y700m) since Saturday'sopening - beating its predecessors in the series.
  • Ashura (Ashura-jo no Hitomi)


  • Samurai Commando Mission 1549 (Sengoku Jieitai 1549)


    Dir: Masaaki Tezuka.Japan. 2005. 119mins.
  • Kadokawa breaks sales records with Samurai Commando


    Kadokawa Pictures has confirmed sales of SamuraiCommando Mission 1549 - a science fiction fantasy about aJapaneseSelf-Defence Forcesunit time-travelling back to the days ofthe samurai - to 31 international territories. This breaks a modern-day recordfor a domestic live-action film held by Hideo Nakata's Ringu, with 30.The film is scheduled for theatricalrelease in the US, UK, Germany, Russia, Uruguay, Hong Kong, South Korea,Taiwan, Singapore and Mexico by the ...
  • Garner to star in Japanese drama remake


    Jennifer Garner has committed tostar in a remake of the 2004 Japanese hit drama Be With You, with WarnerBros agreeing to distribute, according to Kei Haruna, one of the film'sproducers.
  • Asian piracy cuts into Japanese film profits


    Asian authorities have seized 707,709 items of piratedJapanese entertainment software in the first four months of 2005, incooperation with the Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), anorganization representing the Japanese entertainment contents industry.
  • Negotiator becomes biggest Japanese film of 2005


    Negotiator,theKatsuyuki Motohiro thriller spun offfrom his megahit BaysideShakedown films, passed the 2 millionadmissions mark on June 1, the 26th day after its May 7 release.
  • Japanese uber-producer lines up Kurosawa remakes


    Kadokawa Haruki Jimusho, thecompany of uber-producer Haruki Kadokawa, has acquired the remake rights to theAkira Kurosawa classics Yojimbo and Tsubaki Sanjuro from KurosawaProduction.
  • Japan, France strike joint production, distribution agreement


  • Negotiator (Koshonin Mashita Masayoshi)


    Dir: Katsuyuki Motohiro. Jap. 2005. 127mins
  • New Line buys rights to Japanese comic Monster


    US mini-major New Line has acquired rights to make alive-action version of Naoki Urasawa's hit comic Monster, Japanesepublisher Shogakukan has announced.
  • Nippon Herald woes lead to stock market delist


    Leading Japanese distributor Nippon Herald is to be delistedfrom the Japanese stock-market after recently posting an annual loss of $43.4m.
  • Lorelei: The Witch Of The Pacific Ocean (Rorerai)


    Dir: Shinji Higuchi Jap.2004. 128mins
  • Japanese, Korean film giants unveil partnership


    Japan's Kadokawa Holdings, the core company of theKadokawa media group, has announced a wide-ranging tie-up with leading Koreanfilm outfit CJ Entertainment.
  • Shochiku named ShoWest Exhibitor of the Year


    Shochiku has been named International Exhibitor of the Yearby ShoWest, the first Japanese distributor and exhibitor to win the award sincethe event launched in 1996.
  • Half A Confession tops 28th Japanese Academy Awards.


    Half A Confession(Hanochi), Kiyoshi Sasabe'scourtroom drama about a man who confesses to murdering his wife, has been named2004 Best Picture at the 28th Japan Academy Awards.
  • Studio Ghibli to part company from parent company


    Studio Ghibli, the animation house that produced HayaoMiyazaki's biggest hits, including Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl'sMoving Castle, will separate from its long-time parent company, TokumaShoten Publishing, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbunnewspaper.
  • Kadokawa, Intermedia to remake One Missed Call


    Kadokawa Pictures USA andIntermedia are to jointly remake One Missed Call, the Takashi Miikehorror that grossed $14.6m (Y1.5bn) in Japan following its release in January2004.
  • Japanese box office surges in 2004


    The Japanese box office was worth $2.05bn (Y211bn) in2004, an increase of 3.8% over 2003, according to figures released today by TheJapan Motion Picture Producers Association (Eiren). Admissions stood at 170 million.
  • Japanese are Windstruck by Korean film


    Windstruck, director Kwak Jae-young's follow-up to hishit romantic comedy My Sassy Girl,has set a new box office record for a Korean film in Japan. Released by WarnerJapan on 300 screens on December 11, the film recorded $17.65m (Y1.8bn) on 1.37million admissions as of January 16.
  • Crying all the way to the bank


    The Japanese appetite forweepies - originating in the early days of Kabuki theatre - remainsundiminished, and local producers are counting on this cinematic staple to paydividends in 2005.
  • Japanese police make first pirate vendor arrest


    In the first case of itskind in Japan, local police havearrested a street vendor for selling pirated DVDs.
  • 2004: Japan toasts samurai, love and Miyazaki


  • Godzilla: Final Wars


  • Japanese studios set to build country's biggest multiplex


    Shochiku, Toho and Toei will jointly build and operate thelargest multiplex cinema in Japan.
  • Court sentences Japanese film pirate


    AJapanese man has received a one year prison sentence for making Hollywoodfilms available over the internet.
  • Fire destroys Japanese sound stage


    A fire has destroyed a sound stage at Kadokawa-Daieistudio in Chofu, a western Tokyo suburb. The blaze, which broke out in thestructure in the early morning hours of November 21, did not result in anyinjuries. The cause has not yet been determined and total damages have not yetbeen assessed.The 1,067 square metre sound stage, one of five in thestudio, was being used to shoot Yokai -- The Great Goblin War, a majorKadokawa Pictures release ...
  • Blood And Bones (Chi To Hone)


  • Miyazaki's Howl breaks Japanese box office record


    Howl's Moving Castle, the new animation by Hayao Miyazaki, earned $14.2m(Y1.48bn) on 1.1 million admissions in its first two days on release - a newrecord for a Japanese film.
  • The Hidden Blade


  • Sci-fi spoof set for blast off in Turkey


  • Japan set for epic Miyazaki vs Pixar box office clash


    It'snow official -- the big match-up of the coming Christmas season will be HayaoMiyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, scheduled to open on November 20,versus Pixar's The Incredibles, set for release on December 4.Thissort of big head-to-head box office battle is a ...
  • Japan's Gaga bought by Usen Corp.


    Japan's Usen Corp. has announced the purchase of GagaCommunications, a leading independent film distributor.
  • Infection/Premonition (Kansen/Yogen)


    Infection Dir: MasayukiOchiai. Jap. 2004. 98mins.PremonitionDir: Norio Tsuruta. Jap. 2004. 95 mins.
  • Shochiku launches animation division


    Shochiku, a major Japanesefilm company with interests in production, distribution and exhibition, hasannounced the launch of a new division to produce animated features and TVshows.
  • Shochiku launches fund for ninja action feature


    Shochiku, one of Japan's leading film producers anddistributors, is to launch a film fund to underwrite the production of Shinobi,a ninja action film starring Joe Odagiri (Bright Future) and YukieNakama (Game, Trick).
  • Kadokawa Pictures launches film fund for local product


    Japan's Kadokawa Pictures, together with its corporatepartners, has launched a film fund expected to raise as much as Y3.5 billion($32m) for the production of Kadokawa films.
  • Tokyo unveils 17th edition line-up


    The Tokyo International Film Festival has announced itslineup for its 17th edition, which will be held from October 23 to 31 in theBunkamura and Roppongi Hills complexes.
  • Japanese enfant terrible aims to rival Potter


    Japan's Kadokawa Pictures is to remake the 1968 YoshiyukiKuroda hit The Big Spook War (Yokai Daisenso) with director TakashiMiike at the helm.
  • Japan readies World War II dramas


    Japanese studios are readying a spate of action filmscentred on World War II.
  • Japanese studio, broadcaster team for film acquisition


    In the first deal of its kind in Japan, Fuji TelevisionNetwork and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ) are joining forces toacquire Japanese rights for Kung FuHustle, the latest action comedy by Hong Kong actor-director Stephen Chow.The partners will buy theatrical, broadcast and home entertainment rights tothe film - the first-ever such pairing between a Japanese network and majorstudio.
  • Japanese horror hit to get sequel


    Kadokawa Pictures has announced the production of One Missed Call 2, a sequel to theTakashi Miike horror hit that grossed $13.6m in Japan earlier this year and hassince been screened in nearly 30 countries around the world.
  • GERMANY 18 August


  • Kadokawa stages comeback with WWII epic


    Disgraced Japanese mega-producer Haruki Kadokawa is makinghis come-back in typical splashy fashion, with the announcement of a major newproduction commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
  • Warner Japan launches Spicy Asia DVD label


    Warner Entertainment Japan has announced the launch of a newDVD label specialising in Asian films.
  • Japanese filmmakers turn to the past


    It's not surprising that Japanese producers are making morefilms with the aid of digital technology, from DG cameras to animation paintprograms. Much of it is developed in Japan, even if its products are no longermade there. (The Japanese are almost as eager to outsource manufacturing andtech jobs as the Americans and happen to be a lot closer geographically andculturally to their Asian subcontractors.)
  • Japanese megahit crosses box office milestone


    Isao Yukisada's mega-hitromantic drama Crying Out For Love In The Center Of The World recordedits five millionth admission in Japan on June 30, its 54th day of release,while its box office totalled $62.3m (Y6.73bn).
  • Toho-Towa appoints US buying agent


    Leading Japanese independent distributor Toho-Towa hascontracted with Los-Angeles- based Action 5 to be its sole US representative.The company will buy films for Toho-Towa to distribute in Japan, as well asproviding marketing support.
  • Buena Vista embarks on Japanese animation


    Fuji TV has announced the production of a major animatedfeature based on Brave Story, afantasy novel by Miyuki Miyabe that has sold 420,000 copies since publicationin March of 2003.
  • Tokyo film fest announces major new prize


    Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, director general of the TokyoInternational Film Festival, has announced the launch of the Akira KurosawaPrize, to be awarded for the first time at this year's 17th TIFF (October 23 -31).
  • JAPAN 23 June


    Only one film entered the nine-major-cities chart for the week of June12 to 18 -- Eiichiro Hazumi's Sea Monkeys (Umizaru).Produced by Robot, the same company that delivered the two mega-hit BaysideShakedown films, Sea Monkeys depicts the trials and triumphs ofyoung Japan Coast Guardsmen training ...
  • Izo


    Dir: Takashi Miike. 2004.Jap. 128mins.
  • Steamboy


    Dir/scr: Katsuhiro Otomo.Jap. 2004. 126mins.In 1988, with his debut feature Akira,Katsuhiro Otomo introduced the world to the post-apocalyptic future,Japanese-style - and spurred a global boom for Japanese animation that has yetto subside. Sixteen years later, he is back with Steamboy, an animatedepic set in the London of 1866, when the Machine Age was well under way, JulesVerne was at the height of his powers - and the future looked like a grandadventure.
  • School killing halts Battle Royale 2 DVD release


    Toei Video will delay the DVD and video release of BattleRoyale 2, which was scheduled for September, company officials haveannounced. The reason: a highly publicised recent incident in which an11-year-old girl stabbed and killed a friend and classmate, reportedly fortexting disparaging remarks about her.
  • Shochiku names Sakomoto as new president


    Junichi Sakomoto has been appointed president of Shochiku,one of Japan's Big Three film companies, with interests in production,distribution and exhibition.
  • JAPAN 8 June


  • JAPAN 13 May


  • Casshern


  • JAPAN 4 May


  • Appleseed




    The only new opener for the week of April 3~9, In The Cut debuted at number five on the nine-major-cities chart, with a $27,938 screen average. This is not a strong performance given Meg Ryan's star power and the hoopla in the Japanese media over her nude scenes in the film, but not unexpected at a slack time of year, just before the flood of major openings for the Golden Week holidays starting at the end of the month.
  • Japan's production sector resorts to violence


    Best known in the West for the films he has directed, including the 1997 Cannes Palme d'Or winner Hana-Bi and the 2003 box office smash Zatoichi, multi-talented Takeshi Kitano has had a longer career as an actor, going back to his breakout role as a brutal prison camp guard in Nagisa Oshima's 1983 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.


    Both of this week's new releases in the nine-major-cities chart opened strongly, with Something's Gotta Give recording a $41,935 average on 17 screens and Bong Joon-ho's Memories Of Murder, $40,909 on two.
  • Innocence




    In the box office battle between Disney's bears and Shochiku's dog, the latter again emerged victorious for the second week running.


    With Spring Break in full swing in Japan, distributors have been busy rolling out films aimed at teens and kids.


    With Spring Break about to start, Japanese distributors rolled out more new releases on March 13.
  • New force emerges in Japanese market


    Kadokawa Group is reportedly finalising negotiations to purchase a 40% stake in Nippon Herald and to acquire Herald's local distribution network.
  • Warner Bros snags US rights to Japanese animation


    Warner Brothers has acquired US and key European rights to Japanese animation feature Yu-Gi-Oh!, which is based on the popular card trading game comic and TV cartoon series.


    Fresh from its Oscar triumph, Return Of The King easily beat off the challenge to its pole position by new release Master And Commander.
  • Japanese cinema icon to retire at 50


    After 50 years and 27 films, Godzilla is to retire after the latest instalment, Godzilla: Final Wars, which is scheduled for a December release.




  • Fuji TV to shoot submarine thriller


    The Fuji TV network, the makers of last year's number one hit Bayside Shakedown 2, have announced the production of a submarine thriller set in the closing days of World War II.
  • Akame 48 Waterfalls (Akame Shijyuyataki Shinjyumisui)




    Despite opening on more screens and trailing more Academy Award nominations, Seabiscuit failed to dislodge The Last Samurai from its number one slot on the Japanese nine-major-cities chart, which it has occupied for eight straight weeks.
  • Daiei brand to become extinct


    Kadokawa Shoten Publishing president Tsuguhiko Kadokawa has announced a reorganisation of the company's film businesses and a relaunch on April 1 under the name Kadokawa Pictures.
  • Shochiku ramps up slate as it goes for growth


    After six straight quarters of improving sales and profits, boosted by such hits as The Twilight Samurai and the Lord of the Rings films, Shochiku is ramping up its slate of domestic and foreign titles.




    After five weeks on release, The Last Samurai still sits firmly atop the Japanese box office, with a screen average, $106,865, higher than that of every film on the nine-major-cities chart, including second-place Finding Nemo ($64,475) and the indie sensation Josee, The Tiger And The Fish ($84,770).
  • Kirishima 1945 wins prestigious Japanese prize


    Kazuo Kuroki's Kirishima 1945 has been named the best Japanese film of 2003 by the Kinema Jumpo magazine's critics poll.
  • Vibrator


    Dir: Ryuichi Hiroki. Japan. 2003. 95 mins.
  • Miyazaki's Howl delayed till end of 2004


    The release of Howl's Moving Castle, the new animation from Japanese hitmaker Hayao Miyazaki, will be moved back from July to November, sources at distributor Toho have revealed.


  • You've Got A Call (Chakushin Ari)


  • Higuchi to direct WWII Japanese submarine drama


    Shinji Higuchi, a leading SFX director whose work includes the Gamera series, will helm Lorelei, a $11.2m (Y1.2 bn) production set in a Japanese submarine in the closing days of World War II.


    The biggest battle of the Japanese holiday season is between The Last Samurai and Finding Nemo - and so far it's hard to call a winner. The opening round went to Finding Nemo, which set a new record for opening weekend box office with Y1,116,203,900 ($10,431,812) on 900,447 admissions and 720 screens. This compared with The Last Samurai's Y902,354,300 ($8,433,218) on 622,237 admissions and 550 screens.
  • Japan moves to boost film industry


    An advisory body to the Japanese government has drafted a report calling for wide-ranging government support of content businesses, including films.
  • Japan swept up by Last Samurai


  • Production schedules aim for holidays


    For full Japanese production listings click here
  • Incense wins top Tokyo FILMeX prize


    Ning Hao's Incense has won the Grand Prize "Kodak Vision Award, at the fourth edition of the FILMeX festival in Tokyo. The award comes with a cash prize of $9,174 (Y1m).


    There was little change in the Japanese box office top ten, with only one new film, Phone Booth, breaking in. Benefiting from heavy rotation of a 'making-of' promo on the local Fox channel, the film debuted at number three, with a screen average of $29,769.
  • Miyazaki breaks with architectural project


    Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) has publicly disassociated himself from a planned community to be built on a man-made island in Hakata Bay, near the city of Fukuoka.


    Michael Winterbottom's In This World led all new openers with a screen average of $36,760. Distributor Amuse, now merged into Toshiba Entertainment, saturated leading Tokyo art theatres with trailers prior to the November 15 opening at the Cine Chanter theater in Tokyo and the Kannai MG theatre in Yokohama. Also, with Japanese Self Defense Force troops set to go to Iraq before the end of the year, public interest in the Middle East is high.
  • Japanese studio abandons move plans


    Game maker Namco has abandoned its plan to move the studio of film subsidiary Nikkatsu from its current location in a Tokyo suburb to a new site in Yokohama.


  • Nuan scoops Tokyo Grand Prix


    Huo Jianqui's romantic drama Nuan was awarded the Grand Prix at the 16th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival.


    The strategy of releasing a made-for-Japan version of Kill Bill Vol. 1 is paying off big time in the world's second largest film market. The film scored a rousing $1,960,630 on 20 major city screens for a $79,564 screen average. This compares with Y74,370,200 ($670,002) on the same number of screens for Tears Of The Sun, which also opened on October 25.


    The made-for-Japan version of Kill Bil: Vol 1 was packing theatres following its October 25 release, beating out Days Of The Sun and Identity for the number one spot over the weekend. (The chart below covers the previous week)
  • Japanese majors to build major Tokyo cinema complex


    Toho is joining forces with another Japanese major, Toei, to build a cinema complex in Shinjuku - a major Tokyo entertainment district.
  • Paramount plans Japanese theme park


    Paramount Pictures is planing to build a theme park in Hisayama - a town on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu.




    S.W.AT. opened at the top of the Japanese nine-major-cities box office with a strong $60,011 screen average on 22 screens - despite a free ticket giveaway.


  • Tokyo FILMex focuses on young Asian directors


    The Tokyo FILMeX festival has announced its line-up for its fourth edition, to be held from November 22 to 30 at four Tokyo venues.
  • Sony launches Japanese animation unit


    Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan has announced plans to make two full-length animated features annually for the local and international markets.


    Franco Zeffirelli's Callas Forever may well play in Japan forever, if the film's mostly-female fans have their way. In its 9th week on release, the bio-drama starring Fanny Ardent and Jeremy Irons is still packing them in, with a $49,533 screen average from three urban theatres. Distributor Gaga has released the film in a total of six screens nationwide.
  • Bayside Shakedown 2 swells Toho's coffers


    Boosted by the smash success of Bayside Shakedown 2, Japan's largest film distributor and exhibitor Toho has announced record six-month earnings.


    Home-made films often appear in Japan's box office top ten - but it is extremely rare for them to dominate the chart, as they do for the week of September 6 to 12, with six local films in the top 10.
  • Cohn buys up Yellow Handkerchief remake rights


    Japan's Shochiku has sold remake rights for The Yellow Handkerchief, a well-remembered 1977 hit by Yoji Yamada, to veteran producer Arthur Cohn (Behind the Sun, Central Station).


    Boosted by its warm reception at the Venice Film Festival, Takeshi Kitano's samurai swashbuckler Zatoichi soared to $4.3m (¥500m) on its opening weekend in Japan - the strongest local start for any of Kitano's 11 films.


    To the surprise of absolutely no one, The Grudge 2 opened strongly on August 23, with a screen average of $99,892 in its first week on release in Japan.
  • Japanese goverment lines up behind local film


    Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs has set aside $2.14m (Y250m) to back a series of measures aimed at supporting the Japanese film industry.
  • Bayside shakes up Japanese box office


  • Bayside Shakedown 2 smashes Japanese records


  • Bayside Shakedown 2 smashes Japanese records


  • Gaga veterans jump start Japanese indie


    Former Gaga Communications acquisitions chief Kaz Tadashiki has joined Movie-Eye Entertainment as president and CEO.
  • Terminator 3 takes Japanese box office by storm for Toho-Towa...


  • Gong Li named Tokyo jury head


    Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, the new director-general of the Tokyo International Film Festival, has named Chinese actress Gong Li (Breaking The Silence, The Emperor and The Asassin, Temptress Moon) as the jury chairman for the festival's 16th edition.
  • Battle Royale II storms Japanese box office


  • Battle Royale II: Requiem


  • Japan's Groove files for bankruptcy


    Groove Corporation, co-producer of Shohei Imamura's 1997 Cannes Grand Prize winner The Eel (Unagi), as well as other critically acclaimed indie titles, has filed for bankruptcy protection at Nagoya District Court. Its total debt was reported as $42m (Y5bn).
  • Release of Otomo's Steamboy delayed


    The makers of Steamboy, the $20m animated feature by Katsuhiro Otomo, have delayed the film's release date from October to sometime in 2004.
  • Japanese government to ease film production fund regulations


    Japan's Trade Ministry is set to relax the restrictions governing film production funds. Under the current law, only four such funds have been set up since 1992.
  • Hou Hsiao Hsien to direct Ozu homage


    To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Japan's Yasujiro Ozu, Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao Hsien (City Of Sadness, The Flowers Of Shanghai, Millennium Mambo) will direct a feature-length Ozu homage.
  • Japan acts to protect copyright of Golden Age directors


    Japan has passed a revised Copyright Law extending copyright protection for movies and animated films from the current fifty years to seventy following the date of release. The new law goes into effect in January.
  • Gaga to produce feature version of Devil May Cry game


    In the latest of a string of game-to-film adaptations, arcade game maker Capcom and distributor Gaga Communications have concluded a film option deal for Devil May Cry, a Capcom game series that has sold 4.37 million units internationally.
  • Buyers battle for Battle Royale II


    Japan's Toei sold Battle Royale II, the follow-up to the controversial 2000 dystopian thriller, to eight European territories at Cannes.
  • Bright Future (Akarui Mirai)


  • Samurai Resurrection (Makai Tensho)


  • Toshiba takes over leading Japanese distributor


    Japan's Amuse Pictures, whose recent releases include Roman Polanski's Oscar winning The Pianist, has been sold to Toshiba Corp by parent company Amuse Inc.
  • Japan takes film sequel route


    The sequel to splatterfest Battle Royale is set to wrap shooting next month, one of a string of high profile sequels in production in Japan at the moment.
  • The Grudge


  • Twilight Samurai in the limelight


  • Japan pushes Lord Of The Rings to the brink of $500m outside the US


    In its first three days on release in Japan, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers grossed $9.66m (Y1.13bn) from 800,000 admissions. This represents a 25% improvement over the opening of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.
  • Tokyo international film festival gets new head


    Tsuguhiko Kadokawa (pictured), president of Kadokawa-Daiei Pictures, has been appointed general producer of the Tokyo International Film Festival.
  • Japan's Fair Trade Commission investigates Fox


    Officials of Japan's Fair Trade Commission have launched an investigation into Twentieth Century Fox (Far East) on suspicion of violating Japan's Antitrust Act.
  • Box office, admissions fall in Japan, despite increase in screens


    Japanese admissions and box office fell slightly in 2002, despite a rise in the number of screens, according to figures compiled by the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan.
  • Toshiba to buy Japan's Amuse Pictures


    Toshiba Corp. has announced the purchase of Amuse Pictures, the film and video distribution subsidiary of Amuse Inc.
  • The Thirteen Steps (13 Kaidan)


  • Takeshi Kitano eyes blind swordsman project


    Takeshi Kitano will direct and star in a feature film version of the Japanese Zatoichi film series, playing the title role of the blind masseur and master swordsman.
  • Planning group proposes Studio City Tokyo


    A planning group that includes David Fincher and John Woo has compiled a report calling for the construction of a studio complex in the Tokyo Bay area by 2008.
  • Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei)


  • Direction of Battle Royale sequel passes from father to son


    Kinji Fukasaku, whose controversial dystopian thriller Battle Royale was one of the big local hits of 2001, died on Sunday Jan 12.
  • Twilight Samurai scoops top Japanese film prize


    Yoji Yamada's The Twilight Samurai has been voted the best Japanese film of 2002 by the Kinema Junpo critics' poll, while scooping five other awards.Considered the most prestigious honor in the Japanese film industry, the Kinema Junpo poll is now celebrating its 76th year. The best foreign film, according the to magazine's panel of critics, was Road to Perdition.Meanwhile, the best director prize went to Yamada, a veteran best known abroad for his 48-episode ...
  • New Hayao Miyazaki film heads Toho line-up


    Three new works by Japanese animation powerhouses head Toho's line-up for 2003-2004.
  • Blissfully Yours delights Tokyo FILMeX


    Tokyo FILMeX awarded its top prize, the Kodak Vision Award, to Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Blissfully Yours at its competition awards ceremony on December 8.
  • Gaga takes over veteran Japanese film magazine


    Gaga Crossmedia Marketing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gaga Communications, has purchased a majority stake in Kinema Jumpo, Japan's oldest and most highly regarded film magazine.
  • Walt Disney Japan faces potentially damaging lawsuit


    Japanese buyers of the DVD version of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away have filed a potentially damaging suit against distributor Walt Disney Japan, claiming that the colour of the film is "totally different" from that of the theatrical release.
  • Tokyo FILMex confirms its competitive status


    While the Tokyo International Film Festival struggles to regain ground lost to Asian competition, like the recent Pusan Film Festival, a new event has arisen right under its nose.
  • Out


  • Potter sets new Japanese box office record


    Launched on a record 858 screens on November 23, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets has become the highest-grossing opener of all-time in Japan, taking $16.7m from 862,958 admissions
  • There's nothing like the present for Japanese cinema


    With the economy stagnant and the political situation in turmoil, its no wonder Japanese audiences want to escape the present. Fittingly, there are an extraordinary number of new Japanese live-action films set in the past or in the future.
  • DreamWorks to remake Kurosawa's Ikiru


    Hisao Kurosawa, the president of Kurosawa Productions, has confirmed that he is in discussions with DreamWorks over a remake of his father Akira Kurosawa's 1952 classic Ikiru (pictured).
  • US remake of The Ring outperforms original in Japan


    The Hollywood remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 horror Ringu has already become a bigger hit in Japan than the original, after just three weeks on release.
  • Japan picks Out Oscar nominee


    Japan has selected Hideyuki Hirayama's Out as its nominee for the foreign language film category at next year's Academy Awards.
  • Scorsese, DiCaprio gang up for Japanese campaign


    Director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio are preparing to launch a major push in Japan for the forthcoming release of Gangs Of New York.
  • Japan's film industry to get boost from cultural affairs agency


    Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs is to raise $20m (Y2.5bn) for a range of activities to support the local film industry and promote Japanese films abroad.
  • Japan bucks Evil box-office trend


    After a mediocre performance in North America and most international territories, Resident Evil is taking Japan by storm with a first week gross of $10m.
  • Japanese producer/distributor to float on Jasdaq


    Tohokushinsha, a leading distributor of foreign films to the Japanese television market, with interests in theatrical film production and distribution, will list its shares on the Jasdaq market on October 8.
  • Dolls (Pusinky)


  • Dolls (Pusinky)


  • Japan's Sony Pictures turns cinemagoers into film bookers


    Japan's Sony Pictures is to overturn the established practice of film programming by inviting audiences to chose which movies to screen - and at which venues, as well as at what times.
  • Columbia TriStar snaps up rights to Japanese sci-fi Returner


    Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Group has bought worldwide rights, outside Asia, to Returner, a sci-fi thriller expected to be one of the big Japanese films of the year.
  • Japan banks on period dramas to woo international market


    Japan is targeting the international market that swooned over Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with at least seven new youth-oriented period dramas in various stages of production.
  • Japan's film industry sustains growth - over three years


    Sustained by the twin engines of multiplex growth and the popularity of anime titles, Japan's film industry has enjoyed a three-year period of growth, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
  • The Sea Watches (Umi Wa Miteita)


  • Japan's Kadokawa acquires Daiei film studio


    Kadokawa Shoten Publishing, a publishing house with extensive media interests, has reached an agreement to acquire the Daiei studio from Tokuma Publishing.
  • Japan's Toei launches Laterna animation affiliate


    Toei Animation, Asia's largest animation house, has launched a wholly-owned subsidiary to produce animation for families and young adults, over a range of media platforms. Called Laterna, the new subsidiary is capitalised at $420,000 (Y50m) and is headed by Tsutomu Tomari, Toei Animation president.
  • Chicken Heart


  • Dark Water


  • Women In The Mirror (Kagami No Onnatachi)


  • Avex enters adult animation market


    Leading Japanese music company Avex, is launching into the animation business with a major new project that it expects will generate international sales of $806m (Y100bn) by 2003.
  • Japan's Toei names new president, posts fiscal 2001 results


    Toei, one of the Japan's major film studios, is expected to name current president Tan Takaiwa as its new chairman. Managing director Tsuyoshi Okada, son of outgoing chairman, Shigeru Okada, will take over as president.
  • Hollywood SFX pioneer launches Japanese digital film studio


    Richard Edlund, a special effects master who is president and CEO of Boss Film Studios, has launched a start-up for the production of digital films in Yokohama, Japan.
  • Spider-Man takes Japanese box office opening record


    In what is regarded as its most important international territory, Spider-Man smashed yet another opening record at the weekend when it was released in Japan on Saturday (May 11).
  • Japan's Kadokawa Shoten, Toshiba team to provide digital content


    Kadokawa Shoten Publishing, whose media empire includes film producer and distributor Asmik Ace, has linked with electronics maker Toshiba to provide film and other contents for digital broadcasts.
  • A Snake Of June (Rokugatsu No Hebi)


  • KT


  • Japan's theme parks ride recession rollercoaster


    Japan's Disney and Universal Studios theme parks have enjoyed banner years despite a long recession which has plunged several local sites into receivership.
  • Tecmo's Dead Or Alive to be made by Mindfire


    Game publisher Tecmo has signed a license deal with US production company Mindfire Entertainment to make a live-action film based on its hit Dead Or Alive fighting game series. Shooting will begin by the end of this year, with release set for 2003.
  • 20th Century Fox to roll with $100m Dragonball


    Twentieth Century Fox is to make a $100m live-action feature based on the Japanese cult comic Dragonball, the inspiration behind 17 animated films as well as a highly successful TV series.
  • Rings grosses $6.8m from 2-day Japanese debut


  • Disney gets Spirited Away for North America


    Walt Disney Co. has acquired North American rights to Hayao Miyazaki's smash animated hit Spirited Away, which has broken all box office records in Japan. Disney also bought rights to the film for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and France in previously concluded deals.
  • Japan's Toei to focus on DVD business


    Toei, Japan's leading video rental distributor, is to follow the example set by Blockbuster last year (Screendaily Sept 12, 2001) and shift its focus to DVDs.
  • Go


  • Independent cinema to double size in Tokyo


    Tokyo Theatres Co., a leading independent exhibitor specialising in Japanese and European arthouse films, has announced plans to double the number of theatres it operates in Tokyo from eight to sixteen, over the next five years.
  • ApolloMedia lines up Hyams, Duguay projects


    German private film fund ApolloMedia is lining up another three features in the Euros 25m-Euros 70m bracket with producer Moshe Diamant, which will see the fund reunited with directors Peter Hyams and Christian Duguay after working on D'Artagnan (The Musketeer) and The Extremists, respectively.
  • Japanese box office reaches all-time high


    Confirming early predictions (Screendaily Jan 7) official data just released by the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan (Eiren), reveals that national cinema admissions reached 163.3m in 2001, generating all-time record box office revenues.
  • Alexei's Spring (Alexei To Izumi)


  • Pandemonium to remake Japanese horror film


    Kadokawa Shoten, a leading Japanese publisher with extensive media interests, has reached a agreement with Pandemonium, former Fox president Bill Mechanic's production company, to remake Dark Water, the latest film by horror-meister Hideo Nakata, who was responsible for the hit Ring series.
  • Japan's Toho reports record box office results


    Toho, Japan's leading distributor, has reported $415m (Y54.8 billion) in total box office for 2001 - a 25% gain over the previous year and a company record. Toho had originally projected a $227m (Y30 billion) take for the year
  • The Children Of God


  • Dentsu, Tohokushinsha acquire Disney package


    Dentsu and Tohokushinsha are to jointly acquire exclusive Japanese broadcasting rights to 150 Disney movies and TV series.
  • Pony Canyon launches sci-fi extravaganza Returner


    Production has started on Returner, a CGI extravaganza that promises to be one of the biggest Japanese releases of 2002.
  • Yukisada's Go sweeps top Japanese awards


    In addition to being selected as Japan's nomination for best foreign-language Oscar, Isao Yukisada's Go has now been awarded a record seven prizes from a critics' panel for Kinema Jumpo, Japan's oldest film magazine.
  • Japan BO passes $1.5bn for first time in history


    According to figures compiled by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, Japanese box office passed the $1.5bn (Y200 billion) mark in 2001 for the first time since records began in 1955.
  • Warner, Asahi bank on Son's Room in Japan


    Warner Bros. Pictures and the TV Asahi network will jointly distribute Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room in Japan in a deal that is a first for the Japanese market.
  • Japan's DVD penetration to hit 50% by 2005


    Penetration of DVD players in Japanese households rose to 22% by September 2001, a gain of 10.5% from July 2000, according to a survey by the Japan Video Association. The Association calculates that 25% of Japan's nearly 44 million households owned a DVD player by the end of 2001 and predicts that nearly half will have one by 2005.
  • Movie TV to launch on Japan's Jasdaq


    Movie Television, a leading seller of Hollywood films and TV programs to Japanese television, will list its shares on the Jasdaq over-the-counter market on December 13.
  • Investor confidence returns to Japan's Shochiku


    Shochiku, one of Japan's leading distributor/exhibitors, saw its share price rocket to $5.8 (Y715) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday Nov 28. In just 25 days, the company's stock has soared by $1.2 (Y141), partly in anticipation of the Dec 1 release of Harry Potter, but also thanks to an impressive revitalisation of the company, which saw it this year post midterm net operating profits for the first time in four years.
  • Japan's SunCent restructures, loses president


    Beset by red ink, leading Japanese independent producer SunCent Cinema Works has relocated to the headquarters of its parent Wowow , while president and founder Takenori Sento is preparing to exit the company and launch a new production venture, Rumble Fish.
  • Japan's Softbank posts $411m net losses


    Softbank Corp., a Tokyo-based Internet and computer software company with extensive media interests, has posted a group net loss of $441m (Y54.3 billion) for the first half of fiscal 2001, ending in September. This compares with a $295m (Y36.3 billion) profit for the same period the previous fiscal year.
  • Universal Studios Japan to top 8m in first year


    Despite a deepening recession at home, the Japanese appetite for US-style theme parks remains undiminished. According to Daniel Jensen, vice president, Universal Studios Japan (USJ), the company's Osaka-based park has "hit a home run" since its March 31 opening, with admissions expected to exceed eight million before the end of the year.
  • Japan's Shinoda announces final project


    Masahiro Shinoda, a leading director of Japan's 1960s New Wave, has announced the production of what he says will be his last film: Spy: Sorge.
  • Tokyo court fines paper for pirated film images


    In a case that may set a legal precedent, Tokyo District Court ordered Kodansha Publishing to pay the producers of Isao Morimoto's Ichigensan, a film about a cross-cultural love affair set in Kyoto, $46,290 (Y5.6m) for copyright violations.
  • Firefly Dreams wins Hawaii's Golden Maile award


    John Williams' Firefly Dreams was the winner of the First Hawaiian Bank Golden Maile award for the main competition of the Hawaii International Film Festiva (Nov 2-11).
  • Japan, Uruguay select Oscar nominations


    The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eirin) has selected Isao Yukisada's Go (pictured) as Japan's nominee for the Foreign Film Academy Award, out of a short list of twelve candidates.
  • Japan to get Kurosawa museum


    The Akira Kurosawa Foundation, headed by Kurosawa's son Hisao, plans to build a museum in Imari, Saga Prefecture to honour Kurosawa, with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese agreeing to serve as honorary directors.
  • Sony's SCE invests $124m in struggling Square


    Sony Computer Entertainment has purchased an 18.6% stake in Square Co., a leading game maker in recovery after the box office disaster of its first film, Final Fantasy. The unit of Sony Corp. in charge of the bestselling PlayStation 2 console, SCE will become Square's second-largest shareholder. Square founder Masafumi Miyamoto will retain a leading 50.3% share.
  • Fantasy over for Japan's Square film business


    Following the US flop of its first feature, the CGI animation Final Fantasy, game maker Square Co. has announced its exit from the film business. The company expects to record a $83m (Y10 billion) net loss for the current fiscal year, ending in March.
  • Spirited breaks Japan's all-time admissions record


  • Miyazaki beats own Japanese box office record


  • Studio Ghibli's new film to be directed by rival


    Studio Ghibli, whose Spirited Away is breaking Japanese box office records, has embarked on a new feature, based on Howl's Moving Castle, a children's fantasy novel by British author Diane Wynne. But in a first for the studio, the director is not Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, the two master animators who co-founded the Studio in 1985, but Mamoru Hosoda, a veteran with rival Toei Animation, whose credits includes the popular Digimon franchise.
  • Spirited Away on target for Japanese record


    After only 25 days on release, the Hayao Miyazaki smash Spirited Away has already passed the Y10 billion ($82m) mark -- the fastest to do so of any Japanese film in history.
  • Spirited Away


  • Miyazaki smashes own box office record in Japan


    Toho's summer release of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) has smashed the four-day opening record set by the Japanese all-time box office champion, 1997's Princess Mononoke. Spirited Away, an animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki, who also directed Mononoke, grossed $15.8m (Y1.95bn) over the weekend and Monday, some 83% more than Mononoke's debut.
  • Kei Kumai to direct Kurosawa script


    A film based on one of the last scripts to have been written by Akira Kurosawa, Umi Wa Miteita (I Saw The Sea), is to be made by Kei Kumai and premiered at the 2002 Venice Film Festival on the anniversary of Kurosawa's death: September 6, 1998.
  • Toho announces production of Seoul


    Toho has announced the production of Seoul, a Japan-Korea co-production with all-Korean locations and a budget of one billion yen ($8.1 million) -- nearly double the budgets of the Korean mega-hits Shiri and JSA.
  • Japanese Pia film festival prize goes to The Mall


    The winner of Grand Prize at the 23rd Pia Festival was Yuki Tanada's Mall, a 76-minute video film about a woman who after witnessing a suicide passes out every time she gets her period.
  • Japan's Gaga goes live on Tokyo NASDAQ


    Leading Japanese independent distributor Gaga Communications officially listed on the NASDAQ Japan market on Friday, June 29. Opening at $8.25 (Y1,030), the share price rose to a high of $8.53 (Y1,064) and fell to a low of $7.89 (Y985) before closing at $7.95 (Y992). A total of 62,950 shares were traded.
  • Japanese networks team to launch VOD service


    Three of Japan's five television networks - Fuji TV, TBS and TV Asahi - have agreed to form a groundbreaking joint venture to provide film and other content via broadband.
  • Japan's SKY Perfect loses chairman, president


    SKY Perfect Communications, which runs dominant but loss-making Japanese satellite broadcaster SKY PerfecTV, has confirmed that its chairman Koya Mita and president Hajime Unoki will resign.
  • Shochiku veteran unveils 13-title indie slate


    Former Shochiku production head Kazuyoshi Okuyama is preparing a slate of 13 films, including several financed by foreign partners.
  • Pulse


    Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Japan. 118 mins
  • JSA hits top spot in Japan


  • Digital costs push Wowow into loss


    Wowow, a leading satellite broadcaster on satellite and cable TV which dedicates half its schedule to films, swung from profit to loss in 2000.
  • Friend becomes all-time Korean BO champion


    Kwak Kyung-taek's Friend continues to rewrite the Korean film industry record books.
  • Amuse, Toshiba link for Japanese film distribution


    Amuse Pictures and Toshiba plan to launch a new joint business for managing contents rights in the Japanese market, from theatrical distribution to TV program and package sales, including DVD and video.
  • Buena Vista increases stake in Japanese product


    Buena Vista International has bought worldwide distribution rights from Toei to Hotaru, a romantic drama starring Japanese screen legend Ken Takakura. This marks the first time that a US major has made this kind of deal for a straight dramatic feature from Japan.
  • Namco plans major studio and theme park for Tokyo


    Game maker Namco has announced ambitious plans to build a "movie village", in cooperation with film subsidiary Nikkatsu, government bodies and local businesses. The project will include a major film and television studio as well as a film school, a film museum and movie theatres for the general public. The aim, says Namco president and chairman Masaya Nakamura, is to "build a '(movie) village' that can compete with Hollywood."
  • Japan awaits 350 screen release for Korean film


    Tokyo-based distributor Cine Quanon, in co-operation with Korean film producer CJ Entertainment, plans to release the hit Korean thriller Joint Security Area on as many as 350 screens, a new high for an Asian film in Japan.
  • Battle Royale


  • Fukasaku to flesh out Battle Royale


    Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku is preparing a director's cut of his controversial gore fest, Battle Royale, which should enable its target audience of under 16-year-olds to see the film for the first time in Japan.
  • Japanese DVD sales more than double


    According to figures released by the Japan Video Association, DVD video sales in Japan more than doubled in 2000, to $900.7m (Y104,488m) on 30,261,000 units, accounting for 37.9% of all video software sales.
  • Wowow to list on Tokyo's Mothers market


    Japanese satellite broadcaster Wowow has unveiled plans to raise about $172.4m (Y20bn) by listing shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market for venture capital firms. The company plans to list by the end of March but may delay until April or beyond depending on market conditions.
  • Japan's box office slumps despite 'plex growth


    Japan had more films to watch and more screens to watch them on in 2000, but the country that pays the world's highest ticket prices for the privilege declined. According to the Motion Picture Association of Japan (Eiren), box office fell by 6.5% last year to $1.47bn (Y171bn).
  • Dancer strikes a pose in Japan


    Lars Von Trier's Dancer In the Dark not only divided the critics, with some jeering and some cheering at its Cannes premiere, but is getting a radically different reception in major world territories, bombing in some while cleaning up in others, notably Japan.
  • Jupiter consortium to launch CS movie channel


    A consortium of Japanese companies, including Jupiter Satellite Broadcasting, Jupiter Programming, Sony Broadcast Media, Nihon Keizai Shimbun and TV Tokyo, has launched Interactive, a broadcaster that plans to operate six specialty channels, including a movie channel, on the N-SAT-110 communications satellite from March 2002.
  • Japan's Toei readies SFX-laden ninja picture


    Japan's Toei and Kadokawa Shoten Publishing are teaming to make Red Shadow, an effects-heavy ninja film based on a popular 1960s comic.
  • Japan's Wowow secures 2.6 million subscribers


    Japanese satellite service Wowow has broken the 2.6 million subscribers barrier.
  • Japan's Star, Sky to merge


    A powerhouse film broadcaster is set to emerge in Japan following the merger of Star Channel, Japan's largest all-movie cable and satellite service, and Sony and News Corp's Sky Movies.
  • Suzhou River wins Tokyo's first FILMeX festival


    The first Tokyo FILMeX festival, launched as an art-house alternative to the more mainstream Tokyo International Film Festival, awarded its grand prize to Lou Ye's Suzhou River.
  • Sales surge for Sony's game console-cum-DVD player


    Sony's game console-cum-DVD player PlayStation 2 has weathered a bumpy start to rack up domestic shipments of four million by the end of 2000, company sources have revealed.
  • Japan dishes out CS licences to 18 companies


    Hollywood Movies, a movie channel backed by Sony, Itochu, Tohokushinsha and News Corp, is among the 18 broadcasters that have been awarded licences to broadcast from Japan's new communications satellite (CS), which is scheduled to start operating next autumn.
  • Japan's Battle Royale boosted by censorship row


    Proving that there's no such thing as bad publicity, Japanese splatter-fest Battle Royale is piling up ticket sales as quickly as its on-screen body count, grossing $5.45m (Y613m) on its opening weekend, despite, or perhaps because of, politicians' attempts to get the film banned.
  • Gaga, So-net team up for Sweet And Low release


    Sony Communication Network Corp (So-net) has joined Gaga Communications in the acquisition of Japanese rights to Woody Allen's Sweet And Low, marking the first time a Japanese internet service provider (ISP) has made such an investment.
  • Japan's Warner Mycal planning float for 2002


    Japanese supermarket group Mycal is planning to float Warner Mycal, its joint exhibition venture with Warner Bros International Theatres, on the Tokyo stock exchange in autumn 2002, sources have revealed.
  • NTT, Motion Pro start downloading films to PCs


    Japan's NTT Satellite Communications, together with film distributor Motion Pro, has started the first service in Japan for downloading films to home PCs. Launched on December 1, the service charges viewers Y300 ($2.73) per download.
  • Bac planning wide release for Kitano's Brother


    French distributor Bac Films is releasing Takeshi Kitano's Brother on 300 screens across France on Wednesday, marking the country's biggest ever release of a Japanese film.
  • Japanese DVD sales set to triple by 2003


    Sales of DVDs in Japan are set to overtake sales of videocassettes next year, and more than triple to $3.106bn (Y341.7bn) by 2003, according to a report from the Japan Video Software Association (JVSA).
  • Wowow first-half profits plunge by 73%


    Japanese satellite and cable broadcaster Wowow reported a 73% decrease in profit to $12m (Y1.32bn) in the first half of 2000, on turnover down 6.5% to $273m (Y30.02bn). Operating profit fell 79% to $9m (Y988m).
  • Digital satellite broadcasts go live in Japan


    Regular broadcasts started aboard Japan's new digital broadcast satellite (BS) on December 1, bringing high-definition and data programming to 1.2 million Japanese households. Among the 20 broadcasters taking part in the launch were five new BS stations backed by the commercial networks, as well as BS veterans NHK, Wowow and Star Channel, a 24-hour movie channel.
  • Whiteout star wins Japanese box office award


    Japan's Yuji Oda, who stars in local hit thriller Whiteout, has been awarded the 18th annual Money-Making Star Award, from the Japan Association of Motion Picture Producers and the All-Japan Exhibitors Association.
  • Omega, Latin partners to launch virtual market


    Japanese production outfit Omega Pictures is teaming up with three Latin American media companies to launch an on-line film sales outfit, based in Puerto Rico, where they have been lured by significant tax and funding initiatives.
  • Jupiter Telecom postpones Mothers listing


    Japan's largest cable operator, Jupiter Telecommunications, has postponed its scheduled December 8 initial public offering (IPO) on the Mothers market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
  • Dentsu, partners land Tanaka for internet movie


    Japan's Dentsu, Ten Carat and Scale have produced a ground-breaking internet movie starring Rena Tanaka, a supermodel who swept domestic newcomer prizes for her screen debut in the 1998 drama Give It Your All.
  • Diplomat, Chunhyang triumph in Hawaii


    The 20th edition of the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) awarded the top prizes in its competition section to Im Kwon Taek's Chunhyang, which took the best feature award, and Tom Zubrycki's The Diplomat, which won best documentary.
  • Jupiter to float before Christmas


    Japanese cable operator Jupiter Telecommunications, which is part-owned by both Microsoft and John Malone's Liberty Media, has announced plans for a $2.5bn-$4bn initial public offering.
  • Motohiro cranks up Bayside Shakedown follow-up


    Japanese director Katsuyuki Motohiro, whose 1998 cop comedy Bayside Shakedown grossed nearly $100m at the Japanese box office, has started production on SF drama Satore.
  • Love's A Bitch wins Tokyo's Grand Prix


    Mexican title Love's A Bitch (Amores Perros), directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, was awarded the Grand Prix at the 13th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival, which ended on Sunday (November 5). Inarritu also took the Best Director Award.
  • Tokyo governor set to open film office


    The governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, has called for the creation of a Tokyo film office to assist film-makers shooting in the Japanese capital.
  • Toei's Firefly finally ready to roll


    Toei's Firefly (Hotaru), a feature about Word War II kamikaze pilots starring Japanese screen legend Ken Takakura, is finally ready to go before the cameras after months of delay.
  • Jupiter invests in Japanese movie channel


    Japan's Jupiter Programming is taking a 9.9% stake in local movie channel Nihon Eiga Broadcasting Corp, which is part-owned by Sony and Fuji TV.
  • T Joy unveils plans for digital multiplexes


    T Joy, part of Japan's Toei group, plans to start construction in Hiroshima this December on a multiplex that will project digitised films downloaded from a communications satellite.
  • Info Avenue finances latest Imamura project


    Japanese ecommerce outfit Info Avenue Corp has raised finance for a second production - Shohei Imamura's Lukewarm Water Under The Red Bridge (Akai Hashi No Shita No Nurui Mizu) - through its on-line financing scheme.
  • Sky Perfect tumbles 20% on market debut


    Sky Perfect Communications, which operates the Sky PerfecTV communications satellite (CS) platform, made a disappointing debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's MOTHERS market for venture firms on Friday.
  • Applications pile up for new Japanese bird


    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has said that 25 companies have applied for licences to broadcast on the next-generation N-SAT-110 communications satellite (CS), which launched from French New Guinea on October 7.
  • Universal to enter Japan's CS market


    Universal Studios is tying up with Japanese companies including Hitachi and the Asahi media group to enter the communications satellite (CS) broadcasting business in Japan.
  • Digital alliance to compete with Sky PerfecTV


    Japan's largest trading house Mitsubishi Corp has joined forces with four corporate allies to enter the communications satellite (CS) broadcasting market, currently dominated by the Sky PerfecTV platform.
  • Sky Perfect to raise $1bn in IPO


    Japan's Sky Perfect Communications, which operates the Sky PerfecTV communications satellite platform, expects to raise more than $1.019bn (Y110bn) via its initial public offering (IPO) scheduled for October 20.
  • Fuji Bank launches film funding drive


    Fuji Bank, one of Japan's largest city banks, is plunging into film financing in a drive to invest in the production of entertainment software, including films, animation and music.
  • Whiteout


    Dir: Setsurou Wakamatsu. Japan. 129 mins.
  • Warner Bros strikes TV deal with Tohokushinsha


    Japan's Tohokushinsha, the country's largest distributor of foreign films to television, has signed a three-year free TV output deal with Warner Bros International Television.
  • Korea's Digital Nega backs Asian digital package


    Seoul-based venture capital firm Digital Nega, a subsidiary of entertainment magazine publisher Nega, is financing a trio of digital features by prominent Asian directors Fruit Chan, Park Ki-Hyung and Hideo Nakata.
  • Hotaru


  • Japan's Square to securitize Final Fantasy assets


    Japanese games software company Square has announced a scheme to securitize cost overruns on the feature version of its Final Fantasy computer game which it is producing with Columbia Pictures. Though other securitization schemes have been devised for film production, Square's will be the first to offer shares to ordinary investors.
  • Liberty buys stake in Sony's Game Show Network


    Liberty Digital, a subsidiary of the US' Liberty Media Corp, is acquiring a 50% stake in Sony Pictures Entertainment's (SPE) Game Show Network (GSN) for $275m. The two partners said they are joining forces to create what they describe as "the first game-based interactive TV network." The deal is expected to be finalised in fourth quarter of this year.
  • Toei plugs New Year hole with Battle Royal


    Japanese studio Toei has lined up Battle Royal, the latest film by veteran action director Kinji Fukasaku, for release in the New Year, after it realised that its big movie for the key New Year's season, Firefly (Hotaru), would not be ready in time.
  • Taxi 2 Drives Admissions In Japan


    Even though its villains are Japanese, Taxi 2 is burning rubber at the Japanese box office. Opening on August 12, it recorded 110,000 admissions on 165 screens its first weekend, for a gross of $1,587,156 (Y173m), enough for third place in the rankings after MI:2 and The Perfect Storm.
  • Scout Man


  • Wheels (Tockovi)


  • Shochiku unveils Korean co-production


    Japanese major Shochiku and Korea's Cinema Service are teaming up to produce $1.8m (Y200m) drama Pure Love Melody (Sunebo), billed as one of the most equal co-productions between the two countries since Korea lifted its 35-year-old cultural embargo against Japan.
  • Sony launches joint venture with Panavision


    Sony Corp has taken an 8% stake in film equipment manufacturer Panavision, worth $10m, and plans to establish a joint venture with the company to develop and market high-definition digital video cameras to the Hollywood studios and other film production companies.
  • Wowow subscriber levels reach six-month high


    Japan's Wowow recorded 2,550,874 subscribers at the end of June, the first time the satellite broadcaster has passed the 2.5 million mark in six months.
  • Sega to install video-on-demand in game centres


    Sega Enterprises plans to equip its Net@ chain of game arcades in Tokyo with video-on-demand (VoD) systems developed by NEC and linked via fibre-optic cable.
  • Jiang defies ban with Korean project


    Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen, who was recently banned from making films for seven years by the Chinese authorities, has set his next project with a Korean company, Ahn's World Production. Despite the ban he intends to shoot the film in China with an all-Chinese cast.
  • Toei invents digital colour technique for cartoons


    Toei Animation, Hitachi and Toei Chemical Industry have jointly developed a technique for digitally colouring black-and-white animated films - a first for the Japanese film industry.
  • Sega partners with Omega, Suncent


    Sega Enterprises has struck a partnership with Japanese production outfits Omega Pictures and Suncent CinemaWorks under which it will promote and distribute their movies at its newly-opened Net@ chain of game arcades in Tokyo.
  • Itochu launches internet distribution venture


    Japan's Itochu trading house is setting up a joint venture with as-yet-unnamed partners to distribute films via the internet starting early next year.
  • Japan's NTV, NTT plan secure web-casting venture


    Japanese private broadcaster Nippon Television (NTV) and telecom NTT are planning a joint venture to provide copyright management and security services to companies broadcasting content, including films and TV programmes, over the internet.
  • Japanese rivals join forces for digital venture


    Sony Corp, Toshiba Corp and Matsushita Electric are teaming up to develop interactive services for digital satellite TV. The three partners are also recruiting other companies, including Hitachi and the Tokyo Broadcasting Network, to join the alliance.
  • Japan's Hitachi develops digital satellite venture


    Japan's Hitachi is developing a data broadcasting system that will automatically beam content such as films, music and restaurant information from a communications satellite to the internal hard drives of subscribers' dedicated digital receivers. Subscribers can then view the content at their leisure.
  • Industry turns out for closure of Shochiku studios


    Nearly 700 film industry figures and other guests, including director Yoji Yamada and veteran stars Chieko Baisho and Rentaro Mikuni, turned up for the ceremony held yesterday (June 26) to mark the closing of Shochiku's historic Ofuna Studio complex.
  • Sony, Fuji end stakeholding talks


    Electronics giant Sony Corporation is no longer considering taking a significant equity stake in leading Japanese commercial network Fuji Television Network, the companies announced on Friday.
  • Asmik Ace to release Kadokawa film library on DVD


    Asmik Ace Entertainment, the film production and distribution arm of Japan's Kadokawa Publishing media group, will release of total of 63 Kadokawa films on DVD starting this August. Titles will range from the 1976 hit The Inugami Family to the 1997 box office smash Lost Paradise.
  • Buena Vista makes record DVD shipment with Tarzan


    Buena Vista Home Entertainment has shipped 150,000 DVDs of Tarzan to Japanese stores - a company record for an initial DVD shipment in Japan and the second highest number industry-wide since Warner Home Entertainment released The Matrix on DVD in March.
  • Toei celebrates anniversary with Genji adaptation


    As part of its 50th birthday celebrations, Japanese major Toei is set to produce a Y1bn ($9.3m) adaptation of The Tale Of Genji, a classic of world literature written by Murasaki Shikibu.
  • Japan's ASMSE enters film finance arena


    Japan's Association of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (ASMSE) is planning to back further feature projects following completion of its debut film Home Sweet Home which is set for domestic release this August.
  • Japan's Gaga spins off publishing arm


    Japan's Gaga Communications has spun off its Publication Department, which publishes Video Insider Japan and Digital Media Navigator magazines, into a wholly owned subsidiary, Gaga Publishing.
  • Japan registers 60% increase in Internet users


    The number of Internet users in Japan rose 59.7% to 27.6 million in 1999 according to a report by Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT).
  • NTV wraps Japan's first 3D CGI feature


    Japanese television network Nippon Televison (NTV) has completed production on Japan's first all 3D, all computer generated feature film, The Aurora.
  • Toei Video resurrects Battles Without Honour


    Japan's Toei Video is reviving its signature Battles Without Honor Or Humanity television series, originally launched by cult Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku in 1973.
  • Japan's Dance waltzes into Korea


    Japanese title Shall We Dance' is poised to repeat its overseas box office success in Korea where it has outperformed Erin Brockovich, racking up 100,000 admissions in its first week.
  • Satellite Theatre scores major coup with Shiri buy


    Shochiku-owned movie channel Satellite Theatre has made its first major acquisition, purchasing all broadcasting rights to hit South Korean actioner Shiri, which has grossed $15m (Y1.6bn) at the Japanese box office.
  • NTV, Wowow to launch digital broadcast service


    Japanese broadcasters Nippon Television (NTV) and Wowow have reached a basic agreement to jointly provide broadcasting services on a digital communications satellite, beginning as early as spring 2001.
  • Toei, Toho join forces for multiplex venture


    Japanese distributor-exhibitors Toei and Toho have agreed to co-operate in the multiplex construction business, due to high costs which have left local exhibitors struggling to keep up with foreign players.
  • Toho forecasts third year of record net profit


    Toho, Japan's largest film distributor and exhibitor, has forecast after-tax net profit of Y6.7bn ($62.0m) in 2000, for a gain of 2% compared with the previous financial year.
  • Kadokawa boards Japanese movie channel


    Kadokawa Publishing, a Japanese publisher with interests in film production, is boarding Japanese Movie Satellite Broadcasting (Nihon Eiga Eisei Hoso), a start-up movie channel operated by News Corp, Sony, Fuji TV, Softbank and Toho.
  • Japan's MPT asks government to carry digital costs


    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has proposed that the Japanese government should shoulder the cost of the country's transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting, which is scheduled to begin in 2003.
  • Microsoft to buy controlling stake in Titus


    Microsoft Corp is buying a 60% stake in Japan's second largest cable operator Titus Communications from US cable company MediaOne Group which is merging with telco AT&T.
  • Info Avenue launches film investment web-site


    Info Avenue, an e-commerce design and consulting company whose shareholders include the Itochu trading house and Sun Microsystems, has launched a web-site for raising film finance from film fans.
  • Kadokawa plunders comics for first kids' feature


    Japanese media giant Kadokawa Shoten Publishing is making its first foray into children's features with Fushigi No Tatari-chan (Mysterious Little Tatari), based on a popular Kadokawa comic by Nanako Inuki.
  • Japan to revise broadcasting legislation


    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) plans to overhaul broadcasting and telecommunications legislation in a bid to break down regulatory barriers between the country's broadcasting and telecoms sectors.
  • Pia to float to fund digital expansion


    Pia, a privately owned company that operates Japan's largest ticket agency, is planning an IPO by summer 2001 to finance development of a next-generation ticketing service that will relay customer orders via a digital network.
  • Monday


  • Sony restructures to speed up Internet plans


    Japan's Sony Corp is setting up a US-based holding company, Sony Broadband Entertainment (SBE), to house its movie and music businesses, as part of a plan to speed up exploitation of its entertainment assets on the Internet.
  • DVD player sales soar in Japan


    Sales of DVD players soared to Y660m ($6.2m) in February 2000, a 55% increase on the same month last year, according to the Japan Electronic Retailers Association.
  • Pay-Per-View Japan gets greenlight from MPT


    Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has approved an application from PPV operator Pay-Per-View Japan to launch two channels specialising in foreign movies and sports.
  • Toho joins Japanese satellite film channel venture


    Japanese studio Toho is boarding Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting (NESB), a joint venture launched in February by News Corp, Sony, Fuji TV and Softbank, to broadcast two satellite channels specialising in Japanese films and TV programming (Screendaily February 15).
  • Jubaku (Spellbound)


  • Railroad Man sweeps Japan Academy Awards


  • SKYPerfecTV issues shares to DirecTV shareholders


    The merger of Japanese satellite platforms SKYPerfecTV and DirecTV is proceeding to plan as the directors of Japan Digital Broadcasting Services, which operates SKYPerfecTV, have agreed to issue Y12bn ($113.2m) in new shares to broadcast satellite station WOWOW and seven corporate shareholders of DirecTV Japan.
  • Sony forms Internet venture with Toyota, Tokyu


    Sony is teaming up with Toyota Motor Corp and Tokyo-based private railway Tokyu Corp in a joint venture to provide broadband Internet services via cable TV.
  • Tsutaya changes meaning of video on demand


    Japan's Culture Convenience Club, which operates the Tsutaya video rental chain, has launched a service that allows customers to order videos and other software in advance, using mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo's i-mode Internet access technology.
  • Toho kickstarts DVD outing for Japanese films


    Japan's leading distributor-exhibitor Toho plans to start releasing Japanese films in the DVD format starting with Saimin (Hypnosis), a psycho thriller featuring pop idol Goro Inagaki, which is set for release in June.
  • Hitachi takes on Iwanami library


    The Digital Media Group of electronics giant Hitachi has acquired the film library of Iwanami Productions, one of Japan's oldest and largest makers of documentary and educational films, which filed for bankruptcy in 1999.
  • Japan's DirecTV swallowed up by larger rival


    Hughes Electronics' Japanese pay-TV platform, DirecTV, is merging with SKY PerfecTV in a move that marks DirecTV's effective withdrawal from the Japanese market after an unsuccessful three-year struggle to catch up with its larger rival.
  • Toshiba joint venture cranks up first production


    Towani Corp, a joint venture between Toshiba, Warner Bros and Nippon Television Network, has started production on its first feature film, action fantasy Sakuya, which has Tomoo Haraguchi directing.
  • Nikkatsu forced to sell studio to clear debt


    Japan's oldest film production company Nikkatsu is selling its studio - one of the largest and most active in Japan - for $72.7m (Y8bn). The buyer is Maru, a real estate management company owned by Masaya Nakamura, the president of Nikkatsu's corporate parent Namco.
  • Toshiba moots link-up with AOL-Time Warner


    In a bid to boost its low profile in the Internet business, Toshiba has announced plans to enter into talks with AOL-Time Warner about the distribution of content in Japan.
  • Tokuma to enter exhibition with Warner Mycal stake


    Japan's Tokuma Group plans to invest in the country's largest multiplex operator Warner Mycal, as well as make films exclusively for the chain, according to group president Yasuyoshi Tokuma.
  • Japanese partners join forces for movie channel


    News Corp, Sony, Fuji TV and Softbank are forming a joint venture company - Nihon Eiga Eisei Hoso (Japanese Movie Satellite Broadcasting) - to create a cable and satellite movie channel specialising in Japanese films.
  • Canal Plus snaps up six from Japan's Suncent


    France's Canal Plus is acquiring worldwide rights, excluding Japan, to six pictures from Suncent CinemaWorks, the film production arm of Japanese satellite broadcaster WOWOW.
  • Sega speeds up Dreamcast with cable partners


    In a move that threatens to bring UK production to a virtual standstill, powerful local performers' union Equity has told its members not to agree to any contracts for feature films that involve working on or after December 1.
  • Asian films dominate Japan's box office


    In a rare box office coup, Asian films occupy three of the top five spots in the Japanese chart this week.
  • Gaga set for Japan's first digital screenings


    Japan's Gaga Communications plans to start public screenings of computer-graphics animation A*LI*CE from February 25, using a digital projection system that operates without film.