Production Company Bankrupted by China-Japan Island Dispute Fallout

Tony Leung P

The Japanese shingle has filed for bankruptcy amid debt related to action film "1905," which actor Tony Leung pulled out of due to the territorial spat.

TOKYO – Distributor Prenom-H began bankruptcy proceedings in the Tokyo District Court with debts of $7 million (643 million yen) on Feb. 21, following the problems with filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 1905. The project ran into trouble after Hong Kong star Tony Leung pulled out of the production last September, at the height of the China-Japan row over the Senkaku-Diayou Islands.

Leung had been criticized in China for appearing in the film, which was set in Yokohama, Japan, in the year of the title, but had been scheduled to shoot in Taiwan. Financing for the Japan-China co-production was also reportedly disrupted by the political tensions between the two countries, leaving the project in limbo.

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A spokesperson for Japanese movie studio Shochiku, which was due to co-distribute with Prenom-H, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the company understood Leung’s withdrawal was due to the backlash he had faced in China.

Prenom-H made a name for itself in the 1990s distributing Asian films in Japan, including Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express, which Leung appeared in. It went on to release Cecil B. DeMented in 2000 and Takashi Miike’s notorious Ichi the Killer a year later. However, revenues declined in recent years, and the collapse of the 1905 project seems to have tipped it over the edge. 

Phone calls to the company’s Tokyo headquarters went unanswered Tuesday, while the phone lines to its Kamakura offices, south of the capital, appeared to have been disconnected.  

Twitter: @GavinJBlair