Japanese studio Toei has lined up Battle Royal, the latest film by veteran action director Kinji Fukasaku, for release in the New Year, after it realised that its big movie for the key New Year's season, Firefly (Hotaru), would not be ready in time.

Starring Beat Takeshi, better known abroad as director Takeshi Kitano, Battle Royal portrays a near-future society in which teenagers have taken the concept behind the Survivor TV series one deadly step further. The film was originally scheduled for a November release.

Firefly, about WWII kamikaze pilots and starring screen legend Ken Takakura, was intended to duplicate the success of Toei's Railroad Man, a sentimental father-daughter drama starring Takakura that earned more than $18.5m (Y2bn) in rentals last year. Toei hired Railroad director Yasuo Furuhata and most of the film's crew to work on Firefly, which was due to crank up this summer.

However Takakura has had problems with the project and, rather than rush into production, Toei has decided to push back filming until the end of the year. Release is now scheduled for summer 2001.