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Mononoke Hime progresses

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Mononoke Hime progresses, Tokuma eyes Japanese distributors

Mononoke Hime, now "Princess Mononoke", went in front of the Motion Picture Association of America rating board last week and came away with a PG-13 rating, for violence and gore.

Meanwhile, Studio Ghibli parent company Tokuma Shoten is attempting to change the way films are distributed in Japan. Instead of TOHO, the biggest producer and distributor in Japan, Tokuma has chosen other companies to distribute the latest Studio Ghibli film, "My Neighbors, the Yamadas". Although TOHO was instrumental in the success of Mononoke Hime, Tokuma's president Yasuyoshi Tokuma explained that his company needed independance.

"My Neighbor the Yamadas" will be distributed by Shochiku Co., Tokyu Co., Toei Co., and Warner Mycal Corp.

"It is time that we stand on our own two feet," Tokuma told the Nikkei Weekly. "If we fail to do so, producers will not be able to take leadership."

Theater networks in Japan work differently from those in other countries, and is generally considered to be extremely rigid. When a Japanese company distributes a film, they distribute it only to theaters that they own. TOHO theaters generally show the most Japanese-produced films, while the others show more international films, and have more flexible screening schedules.

Tokuma chose now to do this because Ghibli films are doing so well. Princess Mononoke broke all of the box office records in Japan last year, and so producers can now throw their weight around in choosing a theater network. In June, Tokuma Shoten will merge with Daiei Co., a midsize movie producer, with plans to make about 10 films annually.

Isaac Alexander contributed to this report.

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