Major satellite pay tv provider Wowow has announced the establishment of a feature film label, Wowow Films.

'In looking at the image Wowow has for its subscribers, the overwhelming response was 'movies'. We're answering that demand by eagerly entering feature film production,' said Wowow CEO Nobuya Wazaki.

Wowow Films announced its first production as Hannin Ni Tsugu (Inform The Criminal). The film centers around a police detective trying to solve a series of child abduction murders. The film stars Etsushi Toyokawa (Hula Girls, Sinking Of Japan) and is directed by Tomoyuki Takimoto.

In a unique release strategy, the film will air for one night on June 24 as a high-definition broadcast on Wowow, followed by a theatrical release this fall. A second film, youth drama Kimi No Tomodachi (Your Friend) has also been announced and is slated for a 2008 release.

Although Wowow was a member of feature film production consortiums in the past, as well as producing its own programming, Wowow Films is the company's first venture into theatrical feature film production. The move follows an increasing trend of terrestrial broadcasters such as TBS and Fuji TV producing some of the territory's highest-grossing films.

Wowow currently offers a selection of local and foreign movies, sports, dramas as well as exclusive broadcast rights for the Oscars. Wowow Doga offers contents over broadband internet connections.

Established in 1984 with subscriber services launched in 1991, Wowow became Japan's first private satellite broadcaster. The company made its first IPO in 2001 and is listed on the Tokyo stock exchange. As of the end of March, Wowow has 2.43m subscribers nationwide.