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Wowow Expands Into Movie Production

Japanese pay-TV group in feature movie initiative, organizational reshuffle

TOKYO — Wowow, Japan’s leading cable-and-satellite entertainment channel operator, has unveiled a new initiative to produce feature films with internationally recognized directors and new actors cast through workshops.

The first two movies will be directed by Shuichi Okita (“A Story of Yonosuke,” “The Woodsman and the Rain”) and Ryosuke Hashiguchi (“All Around Us,” “Hush!”), based on original scripts. Titles and stories have yet to be announced.  
 
The first workshops for new acting talent will be held this fall and the movies will be shot with selected workshops graduates shortly thereafter. Release of the completed pictures is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2014. 

The idea is to give the helmers not only fresh talent to work with, but the coin and creative freedom to make interesting, saleable pictures – and shake the Japanese film business out of its creative torpor.
 
Wowow has also announced an executive shuffle and divisional realignment. Under the supervision of president Nobuya Wazaki, the channel’s programming & production department has been split into two divisions: production, headed by veteran producer Eiji Omura, and programming, led by Tsutomu Makino, a recent transplant from public broadcaster NHK.

Also, the company’s former promotion department is now part of its sales division, headed by Masanori Gunji, while Hitoshi Yamamoto has been assigned to run both the digital and marketing departments.
 
With a total of 2.6 million subscribers, Wowow operates three premium full-HD channels and a subscription streaming service. In addition to offering originally produced pics, drama series and documentaries, it is Japan’s official broadcaster of the Oscar and Grammy awards shows.
 

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