Despite successes at home, Japanese films continue to be a difficult sell to English-speaking territories.
Even in Asia, where pre-sales were once commonplace, skittish buyers are demanding to see finished product. While Japanese companies introduce new titles at continental events such as Hong Kong's Filmart, Pusan's Asian Film Market and Tokyo's Tiffcom, they often reserve full premieres for AFM.
Japan's TV networks continue to be a dominant force in film production, with Nippon Television (NTV) developing a slate of big-budget spectacles in the wake of the massive success of the Death Note and Always films.
NTV is showcasing the world premiere of urban period action epic K-20: Legend Of The Mask, directed by Shimako Sato, to the AFM. It stars popular Asian leading man Takeshi Kaneshiro as a daring circus acrobat who seeks to clear his name after being falsely identified as a legendary thief. Led by special FX wizard Takashi Yamazaki, the team behind the Always films create high-flying sequences above the fictional city of Teito in 1949.
Buyers will also be able to see the now-complete Tokyo typhoon disaster epic 252: Signal Of Life, starring Umizaru and Sukiyaki Western Django actor Hideaki Ito, and check out the first instalment of $60m trilogy 20th Century Boys - already a major hit in Japan and a hot seller in Asia.
Second World War-set films are a continuing trend in Japan. Broadcaster TBS will hold the first screening of recently completed I'd Rather Be A Shellfish, starring singer and TV star Masahiro Nakai as a soldier on trial for wounding a US prisoner of war.
TBS will also screen the international premiere of local hit Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit. The film depicts an alternative Japan in which a law giving certain people only 24 hours left to live ensures national prosperity.
Big-screen adaptations of television dramas such as Hero and Partners continue to see local box-office success. Pony Canyon begins international sales of Fuji TV's hit Suspect X. Based on a smash television and book series, the murder mystery stars Dororo and Shaolin Girl actress Kou Shibasaki.
Manga also seems to offer a bottomless well of inspiration for Japanese hit-makers. Toho brings Toshio Lee's colourful heavy-metal comedy Detroit Metal City to market for the first time. The film had a raucous world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and is a hit in Japan. Ken'ichi Matsuyama stars with a cameo from Kiss rock star Gene Simmons.
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