Director announces production of new feature

TOKYO — Helmer Koki Mitani, Japan’s king of comedy whose 2005 laffer “Suite Dreams” earned Y6 billion ($49 million) at the local box office, has announced production of his new pic, “The Magic Hour,” from his own script.

While not revealing a budget, Mitani said in Tokyo on Monday that he is aiming for twice the scale of “Suite Dreams,” suggesting a ballpark figure of $10-$15 million.

Pic is about a gangster (Satoshi Tsumabuki) who becomes involved with the lover (Eri Fukatsu) of his boss (Toshiyuki Nishida).

Mitani said he plans to build almost 40,000 square feet of sets at the Toho studio. The pic is skedded for release in 2008 with Toho distribbing.

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