First foreign pic release by this Japanese firm

TOKYO — Japanese major Toei has joined forces with distributor Gaga Communications to release the hit Korean thriller “Double Agent” in June on 200 screens in Japan.

Deal is a double first for Toei, which usually distribs pics on its own and has never released a foreign film before.

Gaga is Japan’s most aggressive and successful distributor of foreign films, while Toei runs its own cinema circuit, also comprising the T-joy chain of multiplexes.

Toei took cinematic rights on “Double Agent” while Gaga has TV and video rights. While not divulged, the fee for the Japanese rights is believed to be in the $1.6 million to $1.7 million range, relatively high for a Korean film.

Banking on the tensions between North and South Korea with neighbor Japan looking on, Toei and Gaga hope for boffo business with this story of an agent working between the two Koreas. Aim is to break the $15.4 million box office record for a Korean film set by “Shiri” 2-1/2 years ago and reach a take of $17 million.

“Double Agent” opened in Korea on Jan. 23 and sold over 1 million tickets within three weeks.

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