US-basedNavarre subsidiary FUNimation Entertainment has acquired North American rightsto Shochiku's Shinobi. No theatrical release date has beenset, but the film will open sometime before its DVD release in autumn.Broadcast rights were also included in the deal.

Describedas a ninja film meets Romeo and Julietand starring Joe Odagiri (Suite Dreams,Blood and Bones) and Yukie Nakama (G@me), anddirected by Ten Shimoyama, Shinobi is based on the famous novel Kouga Ninja Scrolls, also adapted into the popular animated series Basilisk, another FUNimationacquisition.

Released in Japan in September 2005, thefilm performed well at the box office, earning almost $12m. The film was alsonoteworthy for appealing for monetary investment from the general movie goingpublic and private companies, a first-of-its-kind initiative in Japan. The campaign ultimatelygenerated about one third of the film's production budget.

Foreigndistribution rights for Shinobihad previously been sold to a variety of territories around the globe,including Optimum Releasing in the UK, Korea's IMX Inc, Celestial Picturesin Hong Kong, and Australia's Madman Entertainment.The film continued to be part of Shochiku's slate at this year's Berlin market.

The Wachowski brothers' Off Road Pictures had expressedinterest in doing a modern-day remake of the film after seeing a show reel atCannes 2005, but the project has yet to materialise.

Shochiku'slive-action kids film Helen The Baby Fox is showing strong box office numbers in itssecond week having grossed $4.7m. FUNimation parentcompany Navarre Corporation, established in 1983, is a publisher anddistributor of multimedia products throughout North America, while wholly owned homeentertainment subsidiary FUNimation primarily focuseson Japanese animation.