Japan’s Toho to sell H’wood pix on DVD

Product to hit stores starting in March-April '99

TOKYO — Japan’s largest movie company, Toho, said Friday that it plans to sell Hollywood movies on digital videodisc (DVD) in Japan starting in March or April of next year.

Although a lineup is still in the works, Toho is planning to have the Sony Pictures Entertainment release of “Godzilla” as the inaugural film in its DVD series.

Toho hopes to limit sales to video and record retailers and wholesalers, and does not plan on sales to video rental shops.

Toho said it is in discussions with other studios about DVD releases in Japan through its future sales arm.

The company said it is not planning a similar release of Japanese movies on DVD because of copyright problems and a royalty dispute with the Japanese screenwriters association.

Japan has a fully fledged national network of video rentals, which was established last year by the Tsutaya rental chain.

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