Gaga’s going good

Distrib gets new lease on life, snags pics

Six months ago, Gaga was poised on the cusp of bankruptcy. Today, the Japanese distrib says it has done more than just recover.

Said new chairman Tom Yoda, “We have been reborn.”

  • Gaga picked up Japanese rights to Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s “Babel” and is negotiating for Tom Tykwer’s “Perfume.” Both titles are repped by Patrick Wachsberger’s Summit Entertainment. Gaga also picked up Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver,” repped by Focus Intl.

  • Stateside, Gaga made a deal with Beacon Communications to produce a feature version of the Capcom vidgame, “Devil May Cry.” Gaga would co-finance that pic, an arrangement they’ve also made with Crystal Sky on “Tekken” and with France’s Metropolitan on “Onimusha.”

  • Back home, Yoda said the company will move into financing its own productions with the hire of Shinya Kawai, a longtime Fuji TV exec and producer of “Ringu.” Hired last month, Kawai oversees a staff of 10 and is prepping Gaga’s first local language production, a drama-comedy.

Gaga was launched in 1986 as Gaga Communications. December’s $135 million cash infusion from Internet service provider Usen Broad Networks brought in Yoda and turned Japan’s largest indie distributor into the Gaga Usen Group.

Working the Croisette with Yoda are new president-CEO Yasuhide Uno, Gaga co-founder Tetsu Fujimura and Gaga America CEO Kiyoshi Watanabe.

Recent successes for Gaga include Warner Bros. Pictures “Phantom of the Opera,” which saw 25% of its global B.O. out of Japan, and New Line’s “The Notebook” and “Son of the Mask.”

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