Major Producing Companies and Distributors
Kadokawa Herald Pictures, Inc.
Literally gbig picture,h Daiei was one of Japanfs six majors (the other being Nikkatsu, Shintoho, Shochiku, Toei and Toho), a fully integrate motion picture company that produced, distributed exhibited its product. During World War II the major studios were merged into two large companies. Producer Masaichi Nagata (1906-1985) convinced the government to create a third studio, Dai-Nippon Eiga (gGrate Japan Filmh) in 1942. Nagatafs move was highly controversial; he was accused of bribery and arrested. However, the studio, now Daiei, lived on and soon secured the talent of directors the calliber of Kon Ichikawa (1915-), Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) and Teinosuke Kinugasa (1896-1982), as well as superb craftman the likes of Kenji Misumi (1921-1975) and others.
Daiei specialized in jidai-geki, or historical films, particularly in Chambara thrillers often starring Raizo Ichikawa (1931-1969), Shintaro Katsu (1931-1997) and his brother, Tomisaburo Wakayama (1929-1992). Ichikawa is best known for his starring turn in that studiofs violent gKyoshiro Nemurih sword film series, which was cut short by the actorfs untimely death. Katsu starred in several of the studiofs most popular film series, including the long-running gZatoichih saga.
Another popular series at Daiei was their answer to Tohofs Godzilla, gGamera,h a giant flying turtle. That series, like gZatoichi,h outlived Daiei itself, which went bankrupt in the early 1970s. The company was reorganized minus its distribution/exhibition arms, and its much smaller output is usually released by other distributors, usually Shochiku or Toho.
In 1974 Daiei was bought by Tokuma Shoten; and in 2002 was sold to Kadokawa Shoten and renamed Kadokawa Daiei Motion Picture Co., Ltd., later Kadokawa Pictures. In March 2004, Kadokawa Pictures acquired a 44% stake in Nippon Herald Films; and acquired the remaining 56% stake the following year. On March 1, 2006 it merged with the Kadokawa Herald to become Kadokawa Herald Pictures, Inc.
The oldest of the integrated studios, precious little of Nikkatsu's output has been seen in this country; unlike Toho, Daiei and Shochiku, Nikkatsu never established a strong distribution system in the United States. The studio began as the Japan Cinematograph Company in 1912, and dominated the exhibition market, operating nearly 70 percent of Japan's film theaters, and, for a time, was rinaled only by Shochiku in terms of production. The transition to sound (and Nikkatsu's difficulties therein), combined with the wartime reorganization (in which much of Nikkatsu's production facilities were absorbed by Daiei) led the studio to abandon production altogether during the 1940s, though it resumed with a renewed vigor by the mid-1950s. The industry fall-out during the early 1970s led Nikkatsu to distribute soft-core pornographic features ("Roman Porno"), but the company survived and continues operating to this day.
Ambitious but ultimately attempt by dissatisfied actors and artists at Toho to form a thriving, artistically challenging production company. Formed in 1947 following a series of bitter, violent strikes at Toho, Shintoho ("New Toho") began with 10 tops stars and directors. By the early 1950s the company was in serious financial trouble. Soon, it began producing films for the masses, especially period thrillers (often laced with then-daring nudity), war movies and kiddie serials. The company went bankrupt in 1961.
Shochiku Co., Ltd.
An entertainment conglomerate nearly 100 years old, Shochiku's empire includes not only the fully integrated film company but also extensive legitimate theater holdings, video stores, and other entertainment industries. It is the studio of Yasujiro Ozu, ()Nagisa Oshima(), Yoji Yamada() and "Tora-san" and, until the 1950s, Kenji Mizoguchi(). It is the largest and most consistantly successful of the majors, and rivaled only by Toho. The company began producing films in 1920, 24 years after its founding as a Kabuki show producer by twin brothers Matsujiro Shirai and Takejiro Otani (The company takes its name from "Matsu" and "Take", which can also be read "Sho" and "Chiku" and meaning, literally, "bamboo" and "pine" the corporate logo.)
Unlike the other majors, which kept studios in Tokyo and Kyoto, Shochiku operated its production company out of Kamata until 1936, when it moved its operations to Ofuna. Shochiku has long imported Western-made films, first under a subsidiary, Fuji Pictures Corp., which merged with the production arm to become Shochiku-Fuji in 1983.
Toei Co., Ltd.
Studio best-known in this country for its highly-charged action films and teleseries, including the action sequences in TV's "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers". Formed in 1953, Toei quickly established itself as a reliable producer of "B" movies designed to film out double-and triple-bills. By the end of the decade it began producing animated features as well and, until the 1980s, dominated the field much like Disney in the United States. Action directors and stars began to emerge by the late 1960s, notably directors Tomu Uchida() and Kinji Fukasaku() and actor Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba(), whose "Street Fighter" karate movies were big box office in the U.S. during the mid-1970s.
Toho Co., Ltd.
The studio of Akira Kurosawa(), Toshiro Mifune() and "Godzilla," Toho was formed when P.C.L., Photo Chemical Laboratories, entered production in 1933. The company thrived during the war, but bitter labor strikes followed, and, in 1947, several top stars and other talent left to form Shintoho Co., Ltd. in what is known as the "Flag of Ten" incident. Still, Toho retained the talents of directors Kurosawa, Mikio Naruse, Hiroshi Inagaki, Ishiro Honda and others and others and was wildly successful during the 1950s and 1960s. They also succeeded in capturing as American audience more than any other studio by selling its most exploitable product (monster movies, Kurosawa films, war films, etc.) to American distributors while exhibiting its less commercial fare in American movie houses it owned operated, such as the Toho LaBrea in Los Angeles, Like Shochiku, Toho is today an entertainment giant; its production arms is now just a small piece in its massive conglomerate pie.
( The Japanese Filmography by Stuart Galbraith IV 1994 )
Kadokawa Herald Pictures,
President: Yasukazu Inoue
3-6 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
CEO: Nakamura Masaya
28-12 Hongo 3-chome, Bunkyo-ku
Shochiku Co., Ltd.
President: Otani Nobuyoshi
1-1, Tsukiji 4-chome, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 104-8422, Japan
Toei Co., Ltd.
President: Takaiwa Tan
2-17 Ginza 3-chome, Chuo-ku
Toho Co., Ltd.
President: Ishida Toshihiko
2-1 Yurakucho 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-8415, Japan
Toho International Co., Ltd.
President: Matsuoka Isao
8-1 Yurakucho 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0006, Japan