Toho timeline


1932 Toho Company Ltd. is founded by Ichizo Kobayashi as the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater Co. to manage his theater. The two characters that make up the Toho name read "East Treasure." Japan's first all-female entertainment troupe is a spectacular success, and Kobayashi soon acquires the prestigious Nihongekijo Theater (Nichigeki) in Tokyo and opens its doors to the public for a lower admission price than that of his rivals, an unprecedented move in the business at that time.

1937 Seventy-five titles are released, including many that are sufficiently successful to warrant follow-up movies.

1943 Akira Kurosawa makes his directorial debut with the release of "Sanshiro Sugata."

1944 The company's military-themed movies continue with the 1944 productions "Colonel Kato's Falcon Squadron" and "The Daily Battle."

1947 A group of actors and artists leaves the company to set up Shintoho (New Toho) after a series of violent strikes by the then-controlling union at the studio. Banking on the involvement of some key actors and directors, it nevertheless goes bankrupt in 1961.

1951 Kenji Mizoguchi's "Lady Musashino" is released. Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru" is released and goes on to win the prestigious Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1954.

1954 Godzilla makes his first appearance, catching jet fighters and breathing fire in Ishiro Honda's epic science-fiction story, the first of 28 feature films detailing the adventures of an enormous lizard awoken -- very symbolically in Japan -- by a nuclear-weapons test. Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai," starring Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune, is released to packed theaters and goes on to influence filmmakers around the world.

1955 Godzilla is back, this time causing chaos in "Godzilla Raids Again" (alternatively titled "Gigantis, the Fire Monster"), directed by Motoyoshi Oda."Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto" is awarded an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

1956 The first Godzilla movie -- a dubbed and re-edited version of the 1954 movie -- is released in the U.S. as "Godzilla, King of the Monsters."

1958 Hiroshi Inagaki wins the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for "Muhomatsu, the Rickshaw Man."

1959 Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" wins the Silver Bear at the Berlin International
Film Festival.

1961 Honda's "Mothra" frightens audiences but will eventually meet its match when pitted against Godzilla. "Yojimbo," written and directed by Kurosawa, is released and earns Mifune the best actor prize at the Venice Film Festival.

1963 Toho pioneers the introduction of live theater titles from Broadway and the West End in Japan, beginning with "My Fair Lady."

1965 Masaki Kobayashi's "Kwaidan" is released and wins the Special Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes.

1967 "Rebellion" wins the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

1969 Toho produces the first in the "Man of la Mancha" series, one of the most popular stage shows in the company's history.

1973 "Submersion of Japan," directed by Shiro Moritani, posits a cataclysmic earthquake that sinks the country.

1977 Isao Matsuoka is named president of Toho and sets about reforming the company and industry.

1980 Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" wins the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes.

1995 Matsuoka is appointed chairman of Toho.

1997 Toho distributes "Princess Mononoke," which remains the third-highest-grossing Japanese film of all time, taking in $157 million worldwide.

2001 "Spirited Away" becomes the highest-grossing domestic film with $274 million at the Japanese boxoffice.

2003 Toho purchases Virgin Cinemas Ltd.'s Japan operations for more than ¥10 billion ($86 million), renames the company Toho Cinemas Ltd. and begins an aggressive campaign to construct multiplex screens across the country.

2004 "Howl's Moving Castle" earns $164 million at the Japanese boxoffice and wins a Golden Osella Award for technical achievement at the Venice Film Festival.
Godzilla is honored with a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.

2005 Cutting-edge 4K DCI Pure Cinema digital technology is introduced at the first Toho theater.

2006 Toho group's cinemas surpass the 500-screen threshold, earning ¥45 billion ($387 million) at the boxoffice from sales of 35.5 million tickets. Toho reaches a milestone, having been the largest film distributor in Japan for nine of the previous 10 years -- the company was second in 2002 -- with $492 million and a market share of 29.01%.

2007 Chairman Matsuoka is honored with the ShoWest International Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual film industry convention in Las Vegas.

Monster success: Toho towers over global film biz
Dialogue: Toho chairman Isao Matsuoka
Eclectic company: Toho's 2007 slate
Tokyo story: Toho through the years
Toho testimonials