A Tokyo-based motion picture company is poised to take on Hollywood with a live-action cop film that was a hit in Japan this summer.
Toho Co., the nation’s largest movie producer, announced in September that it will release “Odoru Daisosasen the Movie 2” (“Bayside Shakedown 2”) overseas.
The film, which has been seen by more than 12 million people since its July 19 release, will be spruced up for foreign audiences. The timing and locations of its release have not yet been settled.
Toho has contracted Skywalker Sound to remix the film’s sound. Skywalker is a division of Lucas Digital Ltd., led by American director George Lucas.
“Skywalker Sound was aware of the film’s success in Japan — it surpassed the box-office revenue of the American film ‘Matrix Reloaded’ in the Japanese market,” said Shinichiro Masuda, an official in charge of publicity and promotion of Toho’s marketing department.
“Bayside Shakedown 2” rang up 16.5 billion yen at the box office in Japan and is ranked the third most successful Japanese movie. The first, “Spirited Away,” took in 30.4 billion yen, followed by “Princess Mononoke,” another animated film by Hayao Miyazaki that brought in 19.3 billion yen. The reworked film will be rereleased in Japan in time for the New Year’s season, he said.
The film is based on a popular TV drama aired by Fuji Television Network that began in 1997. It features a young policeman with a keen sense of morality and justice who clashes with the police bureaucracy.
The first film based on the TV series came out in 1998 and raked in more than 10 billion yen at the box office.
Last December, Toho began preproduction of the sequel, Masuda said. Due to the success of the first film, the company booked 400 screens nationwide — more than double that for other Japanese films, he said.
Toho launched large-scale promotions for the film during the Golden Week holidays in late April and also the summer vacation season. Toho intentionally cut back on the volume of advertising in late May and June, when “Matrix Reloaded” was released in Japan.
During the campaign, Toho did not reveal the story line, focusing instead on the characters. It also released four poster ads, some featuring actors in supporting roles.
Fuji TV promoted the movie by broadcasting the previous film, commercials for the upcoming run and interviews with the actors. The broadcasting company and Toho also drummed up publicity by displaying in Tokyo one of the film’s sets.
Toho has attracted sponsors from a variety of business fields. The Lawson convenience store chain, for example, has offered a range of goods linked to the film, including instant noodles, pens and notebooks.
“The instant noodles that appeared in the movie, for example, have so far accounted for 300 million yen in sales at retailers, including Lawson,” Masuda said.
Toshiba Corp. used the film characters to hawk personal computers in TV commercials, while Nissan Motor Co. displayed fliers advertising the film at its car dealerships nationwide. Life Co. began offering credit cards emblazoned with the film’s title to try to get fans to sign up.
Masuda said Toho and Fuji TV reduced the number of ads they ran during the last phase of the campaign to avoid overexposure. He said it was the first time in his 10-year career that the volume of advertising had been intentionally reduced during a promotional campaign.
“It was one of the largest campaigns for a Japanese film, involving various companies,” he said. “The advertising budget was nearly five times that of regular films.”
Toho is confident that the film will also make a profit overseas, where most people are unfamiliar with either the first installment or the original TV series. The company does not plan to run a similar promotional campaign for the film’s foreign release, Masuda said.
“With the hit in Japan, the film has already attracted the attention of professionals in the movie business overseas, as if it were a film produced in Hollywood,” he said.
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