Ken Ochiai’s film is the first in a series of smaller-budget films aimed at international markets.

Japanese studio Shochiku has launched a series of smaller-budget movies aimed at international markets, starting with Ken Ochiai’s Ninja The Monster.

Starring Dean Fujioka, the film sees undercover ninjas square off against alien monsters during the samurai era.

Currently in post-production, the film is being readied for delivery in autumn. Shochiku plans to test it in international markets before deciding on dates for the Japanese release.

“[Japanese] action films sell overseas, but budgets were hitting around $10m, which is difficult to recoup from international markets,” said Shochiku’s Kazu Moriguchi.

“The idea with these films is to lessen the risk by combining high concepts with low budgets. With our in-house resources they look like they cost a lot more.”

Shochiku plans to produce around three films budgeted at around $240,000 each year. Next up is Ninja Hunter (working title) about a man who wakes up with a knife in his hand, surrounded by dead bodies and with no memory of what happened.

Shochiku screened the 4K digital restoration of Nagisa Oshima’s Cruel Story Of Youth (1960) in Cannes Classics last week.

The film’s DoP Takashi Kawamata and his disciple Masashi Chikamori (The Little House) supervised the restoration which will receive its Japanese premiere at this year’s Tokyo Filmex.