Weak pix, legit perfs push Shochiku loss

Company feels management pinch

TOKYO — Dogged by disappointing results in movie distribution revenue and weak performances of stage shows, Japanese movie company Shochiku projected its recurring loss for the March-August period of this year to hit 3.46 billion yen ($26.41 million), a dip of 1.83 billion yen ($13.97 million) from an earlier projection.

Projected sales for the period have also been revised down to 23.5 billion yen for the period, which would mark a drop of 10.7% for the same period a year ago.

For the fiscal year ending in February 1999, Shochiku projects a recurring loss of 4.97 billion yen ($40 million).

Shochiku, which also produces Kabuki drama, took its first dip into the red in about 25 years in the previous fiscal year with a projected loss of $77.78 million.

Management pinched

The company’s fiscal predicament is also combined with a management pinch. In mid-January, Shochiku management staged a coup and ousted president Toru Okuyama and his son Kazuyoshi. New management shut down many initiatives taken under the Okuyamas, such as the film series that produced the Cannes award-winning pic “The Eel,” but they have yet to come up with any moneymaking projects in the short term.

The tough times for Shochiku come at a period that is seeing a rebound in Japanese movie attendance. Leading Japanese movie company Toho said earlier this month that it expects to post record profits for the first half of fiscal 1998 thanks to solid returns from its film distribution circuit.

Toho is expecting a 6.5% increase in profits for the March-August term of 1998 over figures posted in 1997, and it should tally a record-high unconsolidated pretax profit of 7.2 billion yen ($52.55 million).

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