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Miramax, Suo tango

'Shall We Dance?' filmmakers ink first-look deal

NEW YORK — Miramax Films has entered into a first-look deal with “Shall We Dance?” helmer Masayuki Suo, producer Shoji Masui and Altamira Pictures.

The story of a Japanese businessman who shakes up his comfortable suburban life by secretly taking ballroom dancing lessons opened July 11 on five screens in New York and Los Angeles. Its gross of $88,106 — a per-screen average of $17,621 — surpassed the opening weekend grosses of such Miramax foreign-language hits as “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Postman.”

“This movie truly is universal, and ‘Shall We Dance?’ and our future projects with Masayuki, Shoji and Altamira represent a great continuation of Miramax’s commitment to foreign-language film,” Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said.

“Having had such an unbelievable opening reception in New York and Los Angeles, we’re now hoping that audiences all across the country — even those who had never imagined themselves seeing a Japanese film about dancing — will be saying ‘Shall We Dance?’ ”

Pic, which stars Koji Yakusho and Tamiyo Kusakari, expanded to other major markets on July 18.

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Miramax by senior VP of acquisitions and business affairs Andrew Herwitz and senior VP of acquisitions and co-production Amy Israel. On behalf of Suo, Masui and Altamira Pictures, the deal was negotiated by Tomohiro Tohyama of TMI Associates.

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