Toei steps into 3D ring

Japanese distrib to convert 'Battle Royale'

Japanese distributor Toei is converting Kinji Fukasaku’s teen-murder-game pic “Battle Royale” into 3D and re-releasing it to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Based on a novel by Koshun Takami, the live-action pic tells a dystopian tale about a near-future Japanese government that sends a “class” of delinquent junior high schoolers to an uninhabited island — and forces them to kill each other to the last survivor.

Released in 2000, “Battle Royale” earned $35 million, the third-highest B.O. for a domestic pic that year. It also sold widely abroad.

In Japan, the pic’s extreme violence upset certain moral guardians, however, including politicians who denounced its negative effect on youth. It ended up with an R-15 rating, meaning that teens the age of the pic’s protagonists could not see it.

Toei’s Digital Center in its Tokyo Oizumigakuen Studio is undertaking the 3D conversion. A Toei source guessed that it would cost about ¥20 million ($222,000) but the studio has not released figures.

That price is far below the projected costs for converting Hollywood pics to 3D, but Toei will use a less-sophisticated method.

Toei is also adding CG and sound to the mix, giving the pic’s various explosions and blood-lettings even more impact.

The 3D version will bow in November on nearly 150 screens. Toei hopes to recoup domestically but added that foreign sales are going to be important.

Hollywood majors are eyeing 3D conversions, including “Titanic,” the “Matrix” trilogy and the “Star Wars” pics, and are quietly testing but have yet to announce a conversion and re-release from their libraries.

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