When it comes to this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar race, it seems Sundance Selects just can’t catch a break. Coming out of Cannes, the company headed by Jonathan Sehring — who also runs IFC — looked like it easily could have two of the five nominees in the category, especially after its acquisitions took two of the top three prizes at Cannes. The French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the coveted Palme d’Or (usually a key factor in considering a film for Oscar submission), while the Jury Prize (essentially third place) went to Japan’s moving and extremely well-received Like Father, Like Son, which so infatuated Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg that his DreamWorks is negotiating for an English-language remake.
Related: Hammond On Cannes: ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’
It seemed at the time that both would be a cinch as their respective countries’ entry in the race, and Sundance Selects was riding high. But as Deadline reported in July, a quirky Academy rule that requires a foreign entry to have opened by September 30 in its country of origin KO’d Warmest Color’s chances, despite Sehring’s best efforts to turn it around. Unfortunately Wild Bunch, the film’s French distributor, was dead set on releasing it October 9, and a qualifying run was ruled out. Now, in what for me is an even more stunning setback, the seven-member Japan Movie Producers Association ignored its country’s high-profile Cannes winner and instead chose a more obscure film, The Great Passage (Fune O Amu) from 30-year-old director Yuya Ishii, the youngest ever to represent Japan in the Oscar contest. That film was released in April — doing nice, if unremarkable, business at the box office. Like Father, Like Son is scheduled for a September 28 release in Japan, a date presumably chosen to make it eligible for the Oscar race. But it’s not to be. Read More »
Listen to (and share) the first episode of Deadline’s audio podcast “Global Showbiz Watch, with Nancy Tartaglione.” Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about Rupert Murdoch’s latest backpedal over the … Read More »
Here’s the latest in our series of reports touching on the people, projects and polemics buzzing around the globe. This week’s report follows articles on France, India and Italy. The series will be taking a break for the next few weeks and return in August.
Japan lost its standing as the world’s No. 2 movie market when it was outpaced by China in 2012. At No. 3, it still enjoyed a slight increase in box office with $2.4B compared with 2011′s $2.3B. While China’s local market share dropped in 2012 (to rebound strongly thus far in 2013), Japanese films consistently have been dominant at home since 2008 and hit a 47-year high of 65.7% in 2012, according to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Tastes have changed, say watchers, as Japanese moviegoers seek lighter fare and films that better represent themselves. “Japan is very insular,” a distribution exec says. “They have a hard time exporting and importing films.” The studios are not necessarily suffering on a local level, however. Warner Bros and Fox have had success in Japan recently, working with films based on well-known manga series and TV animations. Added to that, Fox just shot part of The Wolverine locally and Warner Bros in September will release a Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.
Japan is a complex place to do business. For one, the lack of a mechanism designed for foreign shoots can make filming a challenge. The Wolverine did it, and it’s expected that could help at the box office since it’s a film that represents the Japanese and their culture. But reception in Japan won’t be clear until September 13 when the movie opens there after rolling out most everywhere else in late July and early August. Japan has little trouble with piracy, so day-and-date releases are not the rule.
Also opening on September 13 is Warner Bros’ remake of Unforgiven. Directed by Sang-il Lee, the movie stars Ken Watanabe. (One of a handful of Japanese actors who works in Hollywood and at home, he’ll also star in Martin Scorsese’s Japanese-themed passion project Silence, which starts shooting next year in Taiwan.) The Unforgiven remake was developed for over a year with Lee writing the script. The arc of the story is akin to the original, but samurai are replacing cowboys. It’s set in late 19th century Japan and has Akira Emoto in the Morgan Freeman role. The wisdom of remaking an Oscar-winning Clint Eastwood film could be questioned, but a non-Warner exec opines that “most people won’t know it’s a remake.” The most recent U.S.-to-Japan studio remake was 2010’s Ghost transfer, Ghost: In Your Arms Again, which grossed about $10M locally. (In 2010, there was also indie Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night, a sort of companion sequel to Oren Peli’s original micro-budget hit.)
Related: Studios Translate Local Language Movies Into Lucrative Global Business Read More »
The data in the MPAA‘s Theatrical Market Statistics report for 2012 are striking: China accounted for $2.7B in box office sales last year, up from $2.0B in 2011. That vaults the country past Japan … Read More »
Universal and MRC‘s Ted today passed Skyfall at the Japanese box office and now has grossed $32.5M in the territory, the biggest total so far in 2013. It already was the biggest R-rated comedy of all … Read More »
Coming off a major U.S. copyright victory against the same rival just a week ago, Apple lost a case today in Japan when a Tokyo court ruled that Samsung‘s mobile devices did not infringe on an … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: One of the industry’s top deal makers, Climan has been named CEO of a new enterprise, All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW), that vows to drive the most ambitious effort yet to spread Japan’s entertainment to English-speaking audiences. “Japan has … Read More »
This is big news for whichever Big Media corporation ultimately buys Hulu now that bids are in for the online TV service. Until now Hulu’s content providers have been limited to mostly NBCUniversal, News Corporation, and The Walt Disney Company. CBS has long been … Read More »
One day after Netflix’s plan to establish a beachhead in piracy-plagued Spain came to light, comes word that the streaming and DVD giant has chosen select Asian territories for expansion. The goal is to be up and running there … Read More »
We don’t know who will own Hulu a few months from now, but whoever does should have some people on staff who speak Japanese. The online streaming service says today in a blog post that it will … Read More »
The two Tokyo theme parks have been closed since last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami (they were used as shelters for park-goers stranded following the quake), and now the Burbank-based company is temporarily suspending operations in the city’s stores and administrative … Read More »
Two months after the big tsunami episode of CBS’ Hawaii Five-0, the show is facing a real one. Hawaii, where the series is shot, has been under a tsunami warning after the massive 8.9 earthquake in Japan but, according to a rep for CBS TV Studios, which produces the series, … Read More »
UPDATE: Two 3D animation movies were supposed to open big in Japan this weekend for the March school holidays. But Disney’s Tangled and DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind are now in limbo. That scary 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan also … Read More »