Japan major Shochiku celebrates 110th anni

Distrib reaps record $193 million at B.O.

TOKYO — Japanese major Shochiku will celebrate its 110th anniversary with a series of special events in 2005, the company announced Monday.

Founded as a theatrical playhouse in 1895, Shochiku still owns and manages Japan’s leading Kabuki (traditional theater) stages, including Tokyo’s Kabuki-za theater, where a series of special performances will take place.

After a thriving 2004 that brought box office success for its own films as well as those released by the major Hollywood studios, Shochiku will unspool three of its own productions next year.

“Ashurajo no Hitomi,” a classic love story starring Kabuki star Omegoro Ichikawa and Rie Miyazawa (“The Twilight Samurai”), will hit screens in April. A release for the suspense action pic “Aimless Aegis” is set for summer, while the first film fund co-financed pic, the ninja love story “Shinobi,” will follow in fall.

Shochiku will release major imports during its anniversary year including “The Aviator,” “Alexander” and “Racing Stripes.”

Several special screenings honoring Shochiku’s achievements are planned for the Berlin Film festival in February and the Hong Kong Film Festival in March/April, while the Pusan Cinematheque in Korea will screen 10 Shochiku films within its Nouvelle Vague section in January. Further international screening events are in the works.

In Japan, the major plans a series of DVD releases of its classics and of major Kabuki plays.

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