Unusual three-way day-and-date release for Japan pic

TOKYO — “Death Note — The Last Name,” the second of a two-part mystery/horror pic based a wildly popular comic, will open Nov. 3 in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, distrib Warner has announced.

This day-and-date international release for a Japanese pic is highly unusual, but “Death Note” was a B.O. standout when the first installment hit local theaters in June.

Fans of the Takeshi Obata comic, which has sold 21 million copies in 12 paperback editions, may have given the pic its initial push, but it rapidly turned into a wider B.O. phenom, earning $24 million on 2.23 million admissions.

Bowing Aug. 10 in Hong Kong, it held the No. 2 spot at the box office for three weeks, just behind “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” and finished with nearly $2 million, the best gross for a Japanese live-action pic in the territory.

Released Sept. 8 in Taiwan, it scored another record, this time for first-day B.O. for a Japanese live-action pic. It’s still playing on 51 screens.

“Death Note” opened in Singapore and Malaysia in October and is skedded for its Korean bow Oct. 16 at the Pusan Film Festival.

Rights for North America and Europe are being negotiated.

Helmed by Shunsuke Kaneko (“Gamera 3,” “Azumi 2”), “Death Note” stars Tatsuya Fujiwara as a man who finds a notebook that deals death to anyone whose name he writes in its pages. Drunk on his newfound power, accompanied everywhere by a CG-generated “god of death,” the hero is evolving from a seeker of rough justice to a social menace when a reclusive, sweets-addicted detective (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) gets on his case.

Sequel “Death Note — The Last Name” will have its world premiere Oct. 28 in Hong Kong, with Kaneko, Fujiwara and Matsuyama in attendance.

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