International exhibitor of the year

Celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, Shochiku saw a record year in exhibition in 2004 with a gross revenue hike of 230% over the prior period. And its young prexy, Junichi “Jay” Sakomoto, is leading the entertainment conglom into a well-diversified future.

Receipts from 24 releases last year totalled ¥20.5 billion ($197 million), ranking Shochiku fourth locally behind Toho, Warner Bros. and Buena Vista Intl. Most of it is thanks to blockbusters such as “The Return of the King” and a stream of local pics including futuristic thriller “Casshern.”

Shochiku’s upcoming slate includes “The Aviator,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Kinsey” and “Racing Stripes.” In April, the company will open a new Movix multiplex in Kyoto, bringing its screen count in Japan close to 190.

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