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Shochiku Backs U.K.’s Number 9 Films With First-Look Deal

Number 9 Films has signed a first-look distribution deal for its films in Japan with Japanese studio Shochiku, the British independent announced Wednesday. As part of the multi-year deal, which will focus on Number 9’s slate of theatrical films, Shochiku will contribute to the production company’s overhead as well as development funding.

The first title to release through Shochiku has yet to be announced. Number 9’s development slate currently includes futuristic drama “The Assessor,” written by Nell Garfath-Cox and David Thomas, and “Mothering Sunday,” an adaptation of Graham Swift’s novel written by Alice Birch. Both projects are expected to go into production early next year and are being backed by the U.K.’s Film4.

Co-founded by Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen (pictured) in 2002, Number 9 Films has produced a roster of acclaimed titles, specialising in female-led stories. Recent projects have included Todd Haynes’ multi-Oscar nominated “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara; vampire drama “Byzantium,” starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan; and last year’s “On Chesil Beach,” also starring Ronan, and “Colette,” starring Keira Knightley. Woolley and Karlsen received this year’s special BAFTA award for outstanding British contribution to British cinema.

“Carol” proved a big hit in Japan, grossing over $2 million for local distributor Phantom Film. “Colette” and “On Chesil Beach” were both distributed by Tohokushinska Film in Japan.

“As European producers we make our films for an international audience, and we feel privileged and honored to work with the same company that produced one of the finest movies ever made, Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story,’ amongst many others over a century of commitment to global cinema,” said Woolley and Karlsen. “We hope with Shochiku as our partner we can continue our commitment to cinematic excellence and produce movies for the world’s theatres that will also resonate in years to come.”

Woolley and Karlsen negotiated the deal with Shochiku’s senior manager of acquisitions Meri Koyama and Penny Karlin of Shochiku representative The Karlin Connection.

Koyama said Shochiku felt the two companies shared the same values in the films they delivered, “films with good quality and good stories that resonate with all of us.”

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