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Japan pic fund starting strong

Shochiku to finance 70% of 'Shinobi' through offering

TOKYO — Japan’s first film fund for private investors was off to a strong start Tuesday, when shares in the ¥1.5 billion ($14.4 million) Shochiku production “Shinobi” (Heart Under Blade) went on sale through three securities firms.

“As expected, we’re enjoying very strong demand,” said Morito Ito, general manager for business development at local major Shochiku’s film production unit.

The majority of investors opted for the riskier course, which puts 40% of their investment equity in the film and 60% in a bond-like saving with a fixed return. A safer version offering 10% equity and 90% bond is also available. The minimum investment amount is $962.

“Shinobi,” a romantic ninja action-adventure toplining local stars Joe Odagiri and Yukie Nakama, is set to shoot early next year, with a release planned for next fall.

Investments in the “Shinobi” fund mature in two years, with ancillary sales not yet achieved at that time to be computed for investors’ profit assessment.

Shochiku expects to finance 70% of the pic through the fund.

While recent Korean film funds have used the Internet as an interface with investors, the “Shinobi” fund is a relatively serious and professional affair, with securities firms involved and the Mizuho Bank as lead manager.

Other Japanese film companies are waiting to see how the fund pans out. If it is as successful as the first day indicates, the model could be repeated for other local productions.

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