Asmik & Ace will merge

To be active in arthouse and mainstream circuits

TOKYO — Two Japanese production and distribution companies, Asmik Corp. and Ace Pictures., will merge in April to form Asmik Ace Entertainment Inc., company officials said on Monday.

The company will have capital of $7.3 million and be jointly owned by publisher Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. and trading firm Sumitomo Corp. Sumitomo has been active in cable television with its link to TCI, and Kadokawa is the leading independent film production company in Japan.

“The Sumitomo Kadokawa joint venture will produce feature films in Japan and the rest of Asia and expand both companies’ present theatrical distribution of mainstream English language, European and Asian motion pictures,” the companies said in a statement.

The new company plans to compete in both the arthouse and mainstream film circuits in Japan.

The new venture will be headed by Masato Hara of Ace Pictures, and Asmik’s Yasushi Shiina will take the post of managing director.

Asmik, a Sumitomo subsidiary, is known in Japan as one of the leading distributors of arthouse films, including “Trainspotting” and “Fargo.”

Ace, a Kadokawa subsidiary, teamed up with its parent company to make “Shitsurakuen,” the highest-grossing live action Japanese movie of 1997. The two have also recently finished filming “Fuyajo” (Sleepless City). The pic is based on the national bestseller from Kadokawa about the operations of the Asian underworld in Tokyo.