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‘Final’ pic just that for Square

Gamemaker to concentrate instead on games

TOKYO — Hurt by disappointing worldwide B.O. for its all-computer-animated movie “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within,” based on a popular videogame series, Japanese gamemaker Square Co. announced Tuesday that it will quit film production.

“We shall concentrate on videogames, which is our core business,” a spokesman told Daily Variety.

Square is struggling to recoup $137 million in production costs for “Final Fantasy,” helmed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, executive VP of movie production subsid Square Pictures.

Sakaguchi oversees all film and game production at the company.

The company did not receive any guarantees from Sony Pictures, which distributed the feature internationally.

Pic has taken $30 million at the domestic box office, a third of expectations, with similarly feeble results in key overseas territories. Square had pinned great hopes on its home market of Japan, where the film was released Sept. 15 on 256 screens by Gaga Communications in conjunction with other companies. But B.O. receipts through Sunday were just $6 million. The film ends its wide release at the end of this week.

The fate of Square’s Hawaii-based production facilities has yet to be decided. One sure thing for the company is a projected loss of more than $84 million at the end of the fiscal year (March 31), instead of a projected profit of $6 million.

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