Sengoku Jieitai Goes Hollywood

The latest Japanese movie to get the Hollywood treatment is “Sengoku Jieitai 1549,” directed by Tezuka Masaaki and starring Eguchi Yosuke (37) and currently on release here in Japan. The Hollywood version is to be titled “Samurai Commando Mission 1549” and is the brainchild of “Lethal Weapon” producer Jenny Lew Tugend. It will have scenes added, as well as beefed up music and special effects. It will also be made easier to understand for those without a background in Japanese medieval period history. The “sengoku” of the Japanese title refers to the so-called “warring period” when the country was wracked by civil wars before being unified in the Edo Period. The movie tells of a timeslip, with a platoon of modern-day self defense personnel transported back to feudal times. The current movie is itself basically a remake of the 1979 classic “Sengoke Jieitai” (G.I. Samurai), that starred “Sonny” Chiba Shinichi. The original version has drawn a lot of international interest and contracts have been signed for 31 countries, breaking the record of 30 held by “Ringu.”

• And speaking of remakes, “War of the Worlds” is off to a flying start. The Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise blockbuster opened yesterday – a Wednesday opening is very rare – and pulled in over ¥400 million on its first day. It’s predicted to clear ¥10 billion easily. The only previous major Hollywood flick to open mid-week was “Matrix Revolutions” in 2003. That was an all-nighter, but it still only drew ¥16 million on day one. Before the screening of WotW, there was a sneak preview of Peter ‘Lord of the Rings’ Jackson’s latest, “King Kong,” with a recorded message for his fans in Japan. The giant gorilla is scheduled to hit Japanese screens in December.