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.

Called eMovie (Japan), the new company is capitalised at $280,000 (Y30m) and Itochu projects annual sales of $47m (Y5bn) by 2003.

The company will acquire digital versions of about 300 film titles, mainly in the action and horror genres, of which it will offer nearly 100 on its web-site - www.emovie.ne.jp - for downloading.

One of Japan's Big Five trading houses, Itochu has capital stakes in satellite broadcaster SKYPerfecTV, cable operator Titus Communications, music channel Space Shower Network, movie channel Star Channel and internet search engine Excite.