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.

The partners aim to combine Amuse's strength in distribution with Toshiba's in DVD and Internet technologies to better exploit opportunities across a range of businesses and respond to the challenge of rapid digitalization and network growth.

Amuse Pictures owns theatrical and other rights to twenty films, including Chicken Run, The Gift, Bio Hazard and the Korean mega-hit thriller JSA. A member of the Amuse Group, at whose core is a leading Japanese talent agency, the company has been distributing theatrical features since the spring of 1998.

It's break-out hit was the 1999 Korean thriller Shiri, which it released together with Cine Quanon. It has also partnered with Cine Quanon in acquiring and releasing Chicken Run, which will open on about 150 screens during Golden Week, a cluster of national holidays in late April and early May.

Meanwhile, Toshiba is aggressively expanding its DVD and Internet businesses. The former, especially, has taken off industry-wide, with DVD sales now surpassing those of video cassettes. Toshiba has set up a subsidiary, Toshiba Digital Frontier, to produce and market DVD software. The company is also moving forward with plans to distribute contents on Internet broadband networks.