Wowow Takes Japan Theatrical Rights to Michael Bay's 'Songbird'

Demi Moore stars in SONGBIRD
Courtesy of STXfilms

The deal marks the first major theatrical pick-up by the Japanese pay TV company, which launched its distribution arm earlier this year. The company will benefit from the Japanese exhibition industry's swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tokyo-based pay TV company Wowow has acquired theatrical distribution rights in Japan for Songbird, the pandemic-set sci-fi thriller produced by Michael Bay and former Paramount president Adam Goodman. The pickup is Wowow's first major acquisition through the new theatrical distribution division the company set up earlier this year.

Produced by STXfilms, Songbird has been set in the U.S. for a premium VOD release on Dec. 11, before it heads to a yet-to-be-announced streaming service.

Kayo Washio, head of Wowow’s new Los Angeles office, made the acquisition deal for the company with Endeavor Content, which is handling international sales for the title.

Directed by Adam Mason, the premise of Songbird was crafted for the current moment. Taking place in 2022, the film centers on a pandemic that ravages the world and its cities, forcing a group of characters to navigate obstacles including rampant disease, martial law, quarantine and vigilantes.

The screenplay was written by Adam Mason and his writing partner Simon Boyes during the first phase of the lockdowns in the U.S. The film then became the first feature film to shoot in Los Angeles after lockdown restrictions were eased. It stars KJ Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore.

Said Wowow's Washio in a statement: "A universally relatable love story with a distinct Michael Bay feel to it, Songbird is wholly unique as a story, and a film that can drive audiences to theaters in Japan. This movie works because the pandemic is being experienced all over the world and most people experience the same range of emotions and feelings including fear, trepidation and isolation, while also rethinking lives and what is important to us. It's very rare and unique to have something completely relatable on such a deep level to just about everyone on the planet. Wowow is excited to introduce this movie as our debut feature title as it is representative of the quality of content our subscribers are accustomed to."

The acquisition of Songbird is the second major content pact for Wowow in two weeks, following the company's recent deal to co-produce Michael Mann's HBO Max series Tokyo Vice.

Japan, home to the world's third-largest annual box office, is among the very short list of major theatrical markets to have bounced back from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. Multiplexes in the country are open nationwide and recently played host to the record-setting release of local anime Demon Slayer, which has earned $277 million.

Added Wowow's managing executive officer Masahiko Mizuguchi, who oversees the company's new theatrical arm: "Wowow has built its [theatrical] platform with a focus on sustainability and scalability. In doing so, we are well-positioned to navigate through uncertain times. We’re happy to have such an excellent film to lead our new theatrical slate."