John Woo's epic martial arts drama Red Cliff will be the opening film of this year's Tokyo International Film Festival (Oct 18-26).

The news was announced at a Tokyo press conference for the upcoming Japanese release of Red Cliff on November 1.

The film will be distributed by Toho-Towa and Avex Entertainment, the latter being one of the $80m production's major investors. Red Cliff's release is tied in with Avex's 20-year celebrations, Toho-Towa's 80-year celebrations and release partner TV Asahi's 50-year celebrations.

Japanese cast member Shido Nakamura is signed to Avex's talent management. Pan-Asian star Takeshi Kaneshiro has recently made a comeback in the Japanese film world, adding to the title's local appeal.

Red Cliff was released across Asia in July, and is on its way to becoming the most successful local film of all time in its home territory of China, grossing over $40m. Part two of the film is set for release in the rest of Asia next January and Japan in the spring.

Now in its 21st year, TIFF is the centerpiece of the 16-event Japan International Contents Festival (CoFesta). Events span 29 days from September 30 to October 28 and include the Tokyo Game Show, Akihabara Entamatsuri, Japan Location market and the TIFFCOM contents market (Oct 22-24).

Under new chairman Tom Yoda, the festival has adopted an environmentally friendly 'green' image, extending to the carpet that the stars will walk.

Other details regarding the TIFF competition jury and lineup have yet to be announced.