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Hit-maker Kadokawa back in film business

TOKYO — Kadokawa Shoten Co. is back in the movie business again, more than three years after the publisher’s president, Haruki Kadokawa, left in disgrace over a cocaine scandal that knocked the independent producer out of making films.

With its new film, “Parasite Eve,” the publishing company has picked up right where it left off — taking one of its bestselling books to the screen and collecting hefty sums at the box office.

Dry period

“Parasite Eve” is the first live-action movie the Kadokawa company has produced since pulling out of the movie business in September 1993, when its president was implicated for picking up a taste for cocaine in the U.S. The scandal caused an outpouring of indignation against the company and Haruki Kadokawa, who was cast as a man consumed by his own arrogance.

Before the resignation, Haruki Kadokawa revolutionized the Japanese film industry by tying his publishing house to movie production. His first film was the 1976 release “The Inugamis.” By Japanese standards it was a big-budget movie costing $4.2 million. Despite bad reviews, the film grossed 1.3 billion yen ($10.74 million).

After the success of his first film, Kadokawa went on to make 60 more movies, seven of which were in the all-time top-20 list in revenue for Japanese movies through 1992. The flamboyant producer’s final film, a cutesy tale called “Rex: The Story of a Dinosaur,” was the top money-maker in 1993 when it was pulled from theaters by Shochiku almost immediately after the cocaine revelations hit the mass media.

New pic based on bestseller

The new movie, “Parasite Eve,” is based on a 1995 book by the same title written by a then 27-year-old Hideaki Sena, a pharmacology research student.

The book is the bestselling novel of the ’90s in Japan, with sales at 1.7 million copies. The book and movie are about a grief-stricken scientist who uses radical cell production techniques to resurrect his recently deceased wife.

“Parasite Eve” is co-produced by Kadokawa and Fuji TV’s Motion Picture Division. The movie, billed as a techno-horror sci-fi thriller, is projected to take in 100 million yen ($826, 446) during its five-week run in about 150 Japanese theaters. The film is doing about the same at the box office as “Daylight” is here, and is expected to be in the top three in revenue for Japanese movies released in 1997. The film cost 550 million yen to make and about the same to promote ($909,000 total), its producers said.

One of the film’s producers, Jiro Komaki of Fuji TV, said “Parasite Eve” has set the bar higher for other Japanese producers in using special effects. He wanted the movie to have the look of a Hollywood picture.

Top talent hired

“We hired the best special effects talent from Japanese TV commercials and TV production to make this film. It was the first time for them to get together for one project,” Komaki said.

The movie stars Hiroshi Mikami as the scientist and Riona Hazuki as the wife-cum-creature. It is directed by Masayuki Ochiai.

Haruki Kadokawa is sitting in a jail cell serving a four-year prison sentence. His younger brother Tsuguhiko is now running the company.

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