Hong Kong distributor Panorama Entertainment has signed an output deal with Japan's Shochiku giving it exclusive video rights to the studio's back catalogue of around 4,000 films.
The five-year deal, unveiled at FilMart on Thursday, includes titles such as the hit Tora-San comedy series, Yoji Yamada's 1977 The Yellow Handkerchief and Fall Guy, directed by Kinji Fukasaku in 1981. It also covers Shochiku's Classic Movies label which includes masterpieces from leading Japanese directors such as Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa and Oshima Nagisa.
Panorama has initially selected 150 titles from the extensive library, which it plans to release on various video formats over the next two years starting this summer. The company also plans to launch a "Japanese Classics" channel on a Hong Kong video-on-demand platform before the end of the year.
"We believe there's a large audience for Japanese movies in Hong Kong, particularly following the growing success of Korean cinema in this market," said Panorama chairman Allan Fung.
Fung added that many of the titles were big box office successes when released in Hong Kong in the 1960s and 1970s, but have never had a video outing in the territory.
Panorama recently raised $4.2m (HK$33m), by floating on Hong Kong's Growth Enterprise Market (GEM), which it plans to spend on expanding its library and extending its distribution network into China. The company, which is already active in five South-East Asian markets, plans to open an office in Guangzhou, Southern China, within the next few months.
Panorama is also active in theatrical distribution, releasing around 10-12 titles a year in Hong Kong.