Japanese studio Toho is set to produce a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1958 samurai film The Hidden Fortress, to be directed by Shinji Higuchi.

Special effects expert Higuchi moved into the director's chair two years ago with submarine thriller Lorelei and had a top ten hit last year with Sinking Of Japan which grossed $46.8m.

The $13m remake is scheduled to start shooting on November 1 in time for a May 10, 2008 release.

The lead role will be played by 24-year-old Jun Matsumoto. Primarily a TV actor, Matsumoto is also the youngest member of popular boy band Arashi.

The character played by Toshiro Mifune in the original will be played by Hiroshi Abe, who has a large role in Fuji TV's current hit Hero. Misa Uehara's role will be played by Masami Nagasawa (Nada SoSo).

The original film is also famous for being an inspiration for George Lucas' original outline for Star Wars, with certain elements of the two bumbling lead characters carried over into the characters of C-3PO and R2-D2.

Higuchi got permission from Kurosawa Productions to create a single, younger character (Matsumoto) to reflect the aimless youth of today.

The announcement is the latest in a string of completed and announced Kurosawa remakes, including recently broadcast made-for-TV versions of Ikiru and High And Low and producer Haruki Kadokawa's big-budget remake of Sanjuro, starring Bayside Shakedown's Yuji Oda.

Sanjuro , which stays faithful to the original screenplay, makes its market debut at this week's AFM on Toho's slate. An animated series of Kurosawa's Yojimbo was produced in 2001.