Beset by red ink, leading Japanese independent producer SunCent Cinema Works has relocated to the headquarters of its parent Wowow , while president and founder Takenori Sento is preparing to exit the company and launch a new production venture, Rumble Fish.
SunCent will continue to manage the rights for the films produced under Sento's three-year reign, while plans for new production are on hold, pending the arrival of a new president. "We will continue to distribute films for theatrical, TV and video, while handling foreign rights sales," said a company source. "SunCent will survive." No staff cuts are presently planned. At the same time, Wowow is expected to take a stake in Sento's new production entity, though percentages and names of other investors have yet to be announced.
Sento began producing films at Wowow, a cable and satellite broadcaster specialising in entertainment programming, in 1992 under the J Movie Wars banner. In 1998, with Wowow's backing, he launched SunCent Cinema Works to produce films with leading Japanese indie directors, including Shinji Aoyama, Naomi Kawase, Nobuhiro Suwa and Sogo Ishii. Over the years Sento's films have earned dozens of major festival invitations and awards, including a Camera d'Or prize at Cannes in 1997 for Kawase's debut feature Suzaku.
SunCent, however, has long been struggling to attain profitability and suffered a major blow last year when Ishii's big-budget period drama Gojoe disappointed at the box office.