Bernard Rose's 'Samurai Marathon' to Get North America Release From Well Go USA (Exclusive)

Well Go USA
'Samurai Marathon'

The period action film, which made its world premiere at the recent New York Asian Film Festival, is produced by Oscar winners Jeremy Thomas ('The Last Emperor') and Toshiaki Nakazawa ('Departures').

Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Bernard Rose’s period action film Samurai Marathon following its North American premiere as the opening title of the recent New York Asian Film Festival.

Well Go is planning to release the film in 2020. The deal was negotiated by Doris Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA and HanWay Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

Rose — whose wildly diverse career has spanned horror classics (Candy Man), historical romances (Anna Karenina) and indie dramas (Ivans xtc) — co-wrote the screenplay with Japan's Hiroshi Saito and Kikumi Yamagishi based on the novel The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japanʼs First Marathon.

Samurai Marathon is a Japan-U.K. collaboration produced by Academy Award winner Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor, Sexy Beast, Kon-Tiki) and Toshiaki Nakazawa, also an Oscar winner (Departures). The two previously partnered on Takashi Miike's cult action flick 13 Assassins. 

The film stars Takeru Satoh, Nana Komatsu Mirai Moriyama, Shota Sometani, Munetaka Aoki, Ryu Kohata, Yuta Koseki and Danny Huston.

Set in the late feudal era of Japan, Samurai Marathon is a lively action pic with a samurai twist. The story follows a young ninja (Satoh) who is operating undercover in the court of an aging Lord during a peaceful era of Japan that is on the brink of change. After the Lord challenges his lazy samurais to a punishing marathon to toughen them up, the ninja finds his loyalties put to the test. Into the mix comes the Lordʼs rebellious daughter, Princess Yuki (Komatsu), a heroine who escapes the castle to take part in the dangerous marathon in disguise. Facing impossible odds, this unusual band of characters are running to win or die. The film is inspired by a real-life race that is still held annually in Japan.

Samurai Marathon features some impressive below-the-line support, including an original score composed by modern music legend Philip Glass (The Truman Show, Stranger Things), costume designs by Oscar winner Emi Wada (Ran) and cinematography by Takuro Ishizaka (John Woo's Manhunt).

Samurai Marathon is such an engrossing, often moving film — there were times it was difficult to catch a breath,” Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO of Well Go, said Tuesday in a statement. “Staying true to tradition while finding a place in the quickly modernizing and progressing world is a rather timely [theme], and we feel audiences in North America will connect to this story."

HanWay Films is handling worldwide sales and distribution.