New York/Tokyo based production company TK Digital today launches Japan Flix, a new digital distribution venture that makes never-before-released Japanese films available for the first time in the United States. “There are so many great films made each year in Japan, that never get a chance to find an audience abroad. Our goal is to provide a new platform to introduce these films to an audience who otherwise would not have access to them,” says Takayama Teru, founder and president of TK Digital/Japan Flix.
Partnering with various Japanese distribution companies, Japan Flix offers a highly convenient distribution method for these otherwise hidden gems, as each of their releases will be available to download through the iTunes Store (in HD when available.) Online, viewers can browse an easy-to-navigate catalog that includes information and trailers for each film, and from there select a film to view. There are links to the iTunes store, where you can choose to either purchase or rent the film. Japan Flix has launched with an initial wave of titles, which includes the hit horror film “Teke Teke,” which stars AKB48’s Oshima Yuko, and the latest installment of the horrific and popular Tomie franchise, “Tomie vs. Tomie” (photo). There will be subsequent new releases every month in a wide range of genres â drama, horror, action, romance comedy, cult, yakuza, and more.
Japan Flix website
X Japan drummer and band leader Yoshiki announced yesterday the the rock group are releasing the single “Jade” in the U.S. on March 15. The track will be their “single debut” in North America, following their long-awaited first concert tour there last year, and the first release based on the 3-year contract they signed with EMI last November. The band are said to be in negotiations for the single to be concurrently released throughout Asia and Europe. It is their first single since “The Last Song” in 1998, a title that for almost a decade seemed to be sadly appropriate.
“Jade” is a rock number that pays tribute to the band’s late guitarist Hide, and was recorded with the help of arranger David Campbell (62). He has worked on over 450 gold and platinum albums, including releases by Michael Jackson, Metallica and his son, Beck. The jacket for the CD single is to be shot in Japan today, but will not feature the band members. The promo video will come in two versions and feature live footage shot at shows in the U.S. last year.
The approach of debuting in the U.S. with the release of a single rather than an album is not common, and (with the typical pomp reserved here for X Japan) is being compared with how the Beatles first entered the U.S. music scene in January 1964. There are plans to release two more singles (“IV” and “Born Free”) before putting out an album in the summer. Yoshiki said he has a lot of confidence in the album, which is about 50/50 new and old songs.
Revenue figures released this week show that the movie industry had a record year in 2010. The annual report from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, commonly known by the Japanese abbreviation of Eiren, said that the box office total for the year was ¥220.7 billion, up 7.1% from 2009. Thanks largely to the increased revenue and publicity generated by such 3D hits as “Avatar,” the total was the highest ever, beating the previous record of ¥210.9 billion in 2004. The total number of moviegoers was 174 million, the highest figure since 1975.
Though the number of domestic movies was down by almost 10% from 2009, local productions had another strong year, grossing more than imports for the third year running. But it was the Hollywood 3D blockbusters and their higher ticket prices that had the highest individual box office traction, with “Avatar” grossing ¥15.6 billion, “Alice in Wonderland” at ¥11.8 billion, and “Toy Story 3” with ¥10.8 billion. The biggest homegrown box office success was, once again, a Studio Ghibli anime feature. “Karigurashi no Arrietty” (The Borrower Arrietty) grossed ¥9.25 billion.