Warners Japan to make version of '47 Ronin'

12:38 AM PST 11/04/2009 by Gavin J. Blair, AP

Story is classic Japanese tale, made for the screen 80 times

TOKYO -- Warner Brothers Japan is to make a version of “Chushingura,” known elsewhere as “The 47 Ronin,” starring Koji Yakusho (“Memoirs of a Geisha” “Shall we Dance?”) and Koichi Sato (“Nobody to Watch Over Me”).
 
The story of the samurai who avenge their former lord’s death is one of the most famous in Japan and has been brought to the large and small screen more than 80 times -- although this will be the first theatrical release since 1994.
 
One version by Kenji Mizoguchi, released during WWII, was banned post-war by the American occupation forces for promoting feudal/bushido values.
 
Universal Pictures has a U.S. version titled “47 Ronin” and starring Keanu Reeves, in the works.
 
“Chushingura” is to be directed by Shigemichi Sugita, best known as a Fuji TV drama director on series such as “Kita no Kuni Kara” (“From the North Country”), and is scheduled for a January 2011 release.
 
Warner Bros is also behind a theatrical adaptation of “Gintama,” a big manga and anime series hit. The animated feature, to be titled “Gekijoban Gintama: Shinyaku Benizakura-hen,” will be released during the Golden Week holidays – end of April/start of May – in 2010.
 
At the end of this month, Warner Entertainment Japan is to begin a download service for its films and TV series, to mobile devices and computers.
 
In a partnership with local software firm Skillup, titles such as the Harry Potter series, and some exclusive content, will be available through the “Warner On Demand” service. Titles that are being watched on a mobile phone can be stopped and begun again from the same point on a computer, and vice-versa.
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