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Toho lines up 27-pic slate for ’08

Japanese distributor plots schedule

Japanese distrib Toho has announced 27 pics on its lineup for 2008, headed by the recently unveiled “K-20: Kaijin niju menso den” (The Fiend With Twenty Faces), a mystery starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Takako Matsu and skedded for a December release.

Also on the slate is the new Hayao Miyazaki toon “Ponyo on the Cliff,” set for a summer bow; Koki Mitani laffer “The Magic Hour,” for release June 7; the dramedy “Homeless chugakusei” (Homeless Junior High Schooler), based on a memoir by Hiroshi Tamura (June 14); “Shorinji Girl” (Shorin Temple Girl), a kung-fu actioner starring Kou Shibasaki (April 26); “The Hidden Fortress,” a remake of the Akira Kurosawa classic starring Masami Nagasawa (May 10); and “Dare mo mamote kurenai” (No One Will Protect Me), a detective drama by Fuji TV uber-producer Chihiro Kameyama and scripter Ryoichi Kimizuka (“Bayside Shakedown”) for fall 2008.

On Friday Toho also announced the 20 pics on its 2007 slate that earned ¥1billion ($8.85 million) or more — the mark of a commercial hit at the Japanese BO.

Heading the list was legal actioner “Hero,” with $71.8 million, followed by the latest “Pocket Monsters” toon ($44.4 million), the kiddy fantasy “Monkey Magic” ($39.8 million), the nostalgic drama “Always 2” ($38.8 million) and romantic weepy “Sky of Love” ($33.6 million).

This compares with 15 ¥1 billion-plus pics released by Toho in 2006, although total B.O. through November was down 4.2% vs. the same period the previous year to $474 million.

Toho accounted for nine of the slots in the year’s box office top 10 for local pics — the only exception is the Yoji Yamada period drama “Love and Honor” ($35.6 million), released by Shochiku.

Four of the five biggest pics at the 2007 B.O. were foreign: “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($95.8 million), “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” ($82.3 million), “Spider-Man 3” ($61.7 million) and “Letters From Iwo Jima” ($44.8 million).

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