Japanese distrib Toho readies Tokyo multiplex

$33.3 million complex to have 13-screens

TOKYO — Japanese distrib Toho said Thursday that it would operate a 13-screen multiplex theater to open in April in Sony’s new Tokyo entertainment center.

The Cinema Mediage plex, seating just over 3,000, will be the first to open in a central Tokyo location. Sony hardware will make it the most advanced theater in Toho’s aging line of movie halls.

According to a Toho executive, the company dished out 3.5 billion yen ($33.3 million) to equip the facility, which will be located in Sony Urban Entertainment’s $133.3 million Mediage entertainment center — the Japanese version of Sony’s Metreon in San Francisco.

Unique challenges

The plex poses some interesting problems for Toho. As a distributor, it does not handle enough films to fill all 13 screens with separate pics.

Senior Toho management officials said the company is considering talks with rival distribs Toei and Shochiku about showing their movies at the plex, but no schedule has been set for a meeting.

Toho, Shochiku and Toei largely show only product being handled by their respective distribution circuits at the theaters they own or operate.

Sony’s Mediage, a six-story Tokyo Bay-front entertainment center, is expected to draw 5 million visitors a year.

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