Disney Executives, Politicians Attend Tokyo Film Festival Opening Night

Big Hero 6 - H 2013
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Rain eased off as stars, politicians and a Japanese royal walked the red carpet to see 'Big Hero 6'

Guests from around Asia, Europe and Hollywood, along with the prime minister and a princess from the Japanese imperial family, walked a somewhat subdued, rain-spattered red carpet as the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival opened Thursday.

Jury president James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Hideaki Anno (Evangelion), whose works will be shown in a major showcase at the festival, signed autographs and chatted with fans who had braved the wet weather.

The rain eased off by the time the red carpet got underway, though the crowds have been smaller since the opening day was switched away from the weekend last year.  

Disney executives John Lasseter, who is giving a talk during the festival, and Andrew Millstein arrived with Studio Ghibli's Toshio Suzuki and a Baymax robot representing the opening film.

After the red carpet, the fest opened with the world premiere of Don Hall and Chris Williams' animation Big Hero 6, released locally by Disney as Baymax. With the story set in Fransokyo, a fictional combination of Tokyo and San Francisco, and the festival's emphasis on animation this year, Big Hero 6 seemed the ideal way to kick off this year's event with both directors and members of the English and Japanese voice casts in attendance. 

Before the screening, Princess Takamado chatted about the film with Lasseter and the two directors. 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared at the opening ceremony for the second year in a row, relative longevity after a recent spate of leaders lasting only long enough to attend one festival. 

Local boy band Arashi –who have been around long enough now to probably qualify being called men – were there as special guests to declare the festival open, their appearance kept secret to prevent their legion of fans overwhelming the venue. In addition to numerous best-selling albums and stadium tours, all five members have made the transition into acting, as well as hosting a weekly TV show.   

The main festival was opening as the TIFFCOM content market was coming to a close at its Odaiba venue on Tokyo Bay, the first time the two events have not run simultaneously. 

The fest runs through to Oct. 27th at Roppongi Hills and Nihonbashi Toho Cinema. 

Twitter: @GavinJBlair