Japan's leading distributor/exhibitor Toei, is to produce a sequel to the smash-hit feature Battle Royale.

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, Battle Royale earned $25.8m (Y3.1bn) in Japan from 2,150,000 admissions and went on to sell more than 29,000 video and DVD copies.

The film's violence became an issue at the Japanese national assembly when politicians attempted to get the film banned. The film was released in December 2000 with an R-15 rating from the Eirin industry censorship board and despite this restriction, has attracted long lines of teens and young adults.

"Compared to Battle Royale, the sequel will have more violence but the story will give more hope to the audience," said Kenta Fukasaku, the son of the director, producer and the scriptwriter of Battle Royale and its sequel at the press conference in Tokyo on September 25.

Battle Royale 2 will not follow the story based on the original novel, but will be a "war movie" reflecting the director's personal experiences during World War II.

Currently in pre-production, Battle Royale 2 is scheduled to be in production in December 2002 and will be released in summer 2003. Toei will handle the domestic distribution of the film.

Fukasaku, a 73-year-old veteran celebrated abroad for his Battles Without Honour Or Humanity series about gang wars in early post-war Hiroshima, has been suffering from marrow cancer since after the completion of Battle Royale in 2000 and Battle Royale 2 will possibly be the director's last work.