Fuji TV tracks ‘Suspect’ for theaters

Film unit greenlights crime story

TOKYO — Fuji TV has greenlit “Suspect X,” a big-budget crimer in hopes of extending its successful track record of turning TV skeins into movies.

Pic to be helmed by Hiroshi Nikitani is a companion piece to “Galileo,” the company’s new Monday-night drama series.

The 11-part series, which scored a largely unprecedented 24.7% rating in the Kanto region according to Video Digest, is adapted from a novel by prize-winning mystery writer Keigo Higashino.

It features big-name star Masaharu Fukuyama as a misfit physicist who helps girl cop Kou Shibasaki (“Memories of Matsuko,” “Battle Royale”), solve crimes.

“Suspect X” will see stars reprise their roles in adaptation of a different Higashino tale. Lensing gets under way in early 2008 with sights set on a fall theatrical release.

Series and movie are produced by Chihiro Kameyama, the brains behind Fuji’s smash “Bayside Shakedown” series and the innovative spin-offs that include the current boffo hit “Hero.” Kamayama also exec produced Japan’s foreign-language Oscar contender “I Just Didn’t Do It.”

“This is the first time that we have launched a movie from a series while the series is still in its first-run,” said a Fuji TV spokesman. “We hope that will become one of our longterm franchises.”

Fuji usually puts its movies through Pony Canyon for sale into international markets, but company has yet to pick a seller for “Suspect X.”