Yamazaki to make ‘Friends’

3D CG toon to star Shingo Katori

TOKYO — Takashi Yamazaki, straight from his B.O. smash “Space Battleship Yamato,” has signed to make a 3D CG toon.

“Friends: Mononoke Shima no Naki” will star Shingo Katori as the voice of the hero, a red demon from Japanese folklore, who together with a blue-hued pal (voiced by Koichi Yamadera), lives on an island.

The story, scripted by Yamazaki based on the fairytale “The Demon Who Cried” (Naita Aka Oni), revolves about the friendship between this pair and a human boy who ends up on the island.

Yamazaki first worked with Katori, a member of the mega pop group SMAP, on his 2000 feature debut, “Juvenile.”

The pic is skedded to open in December 2011, with Toho distribbing.

“Space Battleship Yamato,” starring another SMAP member, Takuya Kimura, has soared to the top of the Japanese B.O. since its Dec. 1 release, beating out “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1,” and is expected to reach the $50 million mark.

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