Media Blasters is to distribute KankuroKudo's hitJapanese gay samurai road comedy Yaji And Kita, The MidnightPilgrims in the US next summer, with plans to roll out to 40 screens in NewYork, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities.

Starring pop star Tomoya Nagase and Kabukiactor Shichinosuke Nakamura in the title roles, the film depicts the adventuresof a feudal-era gay couple as they journey down the fabled Tokaido Road fromEdo (today's Tokyo) to the Ise Shrine, based on Ikku Jippensha's 19th-centurypicaresque novel Shank's Mare.

Released in three Tokyo theatres in April byAsmik Ace, Yaji And Kita, The Midnight Pilgrims expanded to 160 theatresnationwide and grossed Y800 million ($7 million) on 600,000 admissions. Kudo'sfirst feature as a director, it was also the latest in his long line of TV andfilm hits as a scriptwriter, including Go (2001), Ping Pong(2002) and Kisarazu Cats Eye (2004).

Founded in 1996, Media Blasters began as acult film and anime video distributor, but has since expanded into publishingand film distribution. Among its Japanese titles are films by Teruo Ishii andTakashi Miike.