Shochiku unveils Kyoto Studio

Facility received a $20 million upgrade

TOKYO -- Shochiku opened its revamped Kyoto Studio on Tuesday after a ¥2 billion ($20 million) refit, with the city government contributing $1.5 million to the upgrade.

The new state-of-the-art facilities include enhanced digital editing capabilities and a digital screening room, as well as two 5,382-square-foot sound stages.

The storied studio, which first opened in 1946, has long been the home of Shochiku's "jidai-geki" samurai movies. More recently, Yoji Yamada's 2004 Oscar nominee "The Twilight Samurai" and 2002's "When the Last Sword Is Drawn," from Oscar-winning director Yojiro Takita ("Departures"), were both shot there.

In addition to cooperation with the local government, Shochiku has partnered with Ritsumeikan University, where Yamada began teaching as a guest lecturer in 2008, to give film students access to the new facilities.

The studios and postproduction suites also will be available for use by outside companies.

"We're hoping to attract filmmakers from across Asia and the rest of the world, and have made a lot of effort to make the studio English-friendly," Shochiku's Akira Tanaka said.