Cannes: Chinese Gaming Company Acquires Unproduced Akira Kurosawa Screenplays

Seven Samurai -Still 1- H 2016
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

The Chinese firm plans to go into production on "Silvering Spear," an unfilmed samurai project from the Japanese cinema legend, in 2018.

The unproduced screenplays of Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa, a giant of cinema history, could finally be making their way to the big screen.

During a press event at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, Chinese gaming company Jinke Entertainment unveiled that it has acquired the rights to nine unfilmed Kurosawa works from Kurosawa Production Co., the Tokyo-based firm dedicated to promoting and protecting the filmmaker's legacy.

According to Jinke, which began as a chemicals manufacturer but in recent years diversified into mobile game development and distribution, the first Kurosawa project to go into production will be Silvering Spear (working title), a Samurai story set during Japan's Warring States period.

Silvering Spear is scheduled to begin filming in 2018, with additional production and casting announcements expected soon, the partners said. This first project will be a Chinese-language film, but the other Kurosawa screenplays could be adapted in other languages, depending on which production partners are brought on board, Jinke said.

The acquisition announcement in Cannes was made by Akira Kurosawa’s grandson, Takayuki Kato, who now heads up Kurosawa Production Co.

"My family and I are extremely pleased to work with Jinke Entertainment on the completion of my grandfather’s film Silvering Spear," Kato said. "We look forward to giving his millions of fans around the world the chance to experience one of his final masterpieces. We hope this will be the first of many projects on which we work together with Jinke Entertainment.”

Zhang Zhengfeng, deputy general manager of Jinke Entertainment, added: "We hope to replicate the success we have achieved in the mobile gaming space in the motion picture genre. We are deeply humbled that our first film project will be that of one of the cinema world’s most revered directors. We’re pleased to have the full support of Mr. Kurosawa’s family and team on this important endeavor, and will honor the work of the Asian film master by creating a high-quality production of one of his last film projects.”

The partners offered the following plot summary for Silvering Spear:

"Silvering Spear tells the story of a samurai named Ishigaki Jyube who demonstrates remarkable marksmanship while living during the Warring States period, a turbulent time in Japan’s history. Ishigaki Jyube searches for a way to utilize his special talents, while not exploiting them for personal gain.

The Samurai aspires to be a leader who would help to usher in a peaceful time for all. Dedicated to this lofty goal, he refuses to casually pursue his marksmanship talent as a means of subsistence. However, as circumstances in the country go from bad to worse, Ishigaki Jyube’s spear finally becomes a useful tool, when he is tricked into a scam and manipulated by a gang of bandits."