Toho to remake Kurosawa's 'Fortress'

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TOKYO -- Japanese film studio Toho is remaking Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress," famous for having large chunks of its story used by George Lucas in the original "Star Wars."

The new version, first reported Monday in the Japanese media, will be directed by Shinji Higuchi, responsible for last year's hit "The Sinking of Japan" but best known for his special effects work.

The 1958 film -- known as "Kakushi Toride no San Akunin" in Japanese, or "The three villains of the hidden fortress" -- is an action comedy starring Toshiro Mifune. Taking the Mifune role will be romantic comedy star Hiroshi Abe. Masami Nagasawa will take the role of princess Uehara.

In a move guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of Kurosawa fans, the parts of the two peasant refugees, the inspiration for R2-D2 and C-3PO, will be combined into a single character, Takezo, from whose perspective the story will be told. Jun Matsumoto of the boy band Arashi will take that key role.

Shooting is scheduled to begin in early November, with a ¥1.5 billion ($13 million) budget, and wrap by the end of the year. Release is slated for May 10.
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