Paramount+ Launches Streaming Service in Japan

The Paramount+ subscription streaming VOD service has launched operations in Japan via distribution agreements with cable TV operator J:COM and internet service provider WOWWOW.

“The launch of Paramount+ in Japan marks a pivotal moment in our expansion, as our [streaming] footprint now spans all of the Top 10 international markets,” Marco Nobili, EVP and International GM for Paramount+, said in a statement.

The streamer’s SVOD platform launched in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico on Nov. 16, with the lower-priced ad-supported tier bowing in Australia and Canada in 2024.

Paramount+ ended the most recent fiscal with 63 million global subscribers, up 2.7 million subscribers from the previous fiscal period.

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GlobalData: SVOD Service Revenue in Japan to Grow to $6B in 2027

Subscription video-on-demand service revenue in Japan is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1% from $3.5 billion in 2022 to $6 billion in 2027, forecasts data and analytics company GlobalData.

The increase will be driven by the strong growth in SVOD subscriptions and unique SVOD households, and a steady rise in the average monthly revenue per unique SVOD household, according to GlobalData.

GlobalData’s latest Japan SVOD forecast reveals that the growth in SVOD subscriptions in the country during 2022-2027 will be supported by the continued rise in household penetration of fixed broadband services, particularly fiber-to-the-home/building (FTTH/B) services, and the subsequent consumer shift from traditional pay-TV services to OTT video platforms.

“The projected rise in the monthly average SVOD revenue per unique SVOD household from $9.29 in 2022 to $12.28 in 2027 is expected to be driven by the increasing consumption of premium video content in the country,” Kantipudi Pradeepthi, telecom analyst at GlobalData, said in a statement.

The Amazon Prime Video platform is set to lead the Japan’s SVOD market and will account for the largest share of SVOD subscriptions through the forecast period followed by Netflix, according to GlobalData.

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“Amazon’s growth can be attributed to its complementary offering of its e-commerce service with the same subscription amount, and competitive pricing,” Pradeepthi said in a statement. “Additionally, the availability of local Japanese content, including licensed anime and American films and television shows, will also help Prime Video maintain its leadership position during the forecast period.”

Paramount+ to Bow Service in Japan Beginning Dec. 1

Paramount Global said its branded streaming service Paramount+ is set to launch in Japan on Dec. 1, as part of partnership Japanese cable TV operator J:Com, and with pay-TV operator WowWow. Japan is the second Paramount+ market in Asia following its debut in Korea last year.

The Paramount+ debut includes access to originals such as “Tulsa King,” “Mayor of Kingstown,” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” among others. Movies include Mission: Impossible, Bumblebee, and G.I. Joe from Paramount Pictures; CBS TV shows “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “NCIS”; animated titles such as Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” and Comedy Central’s “South Park”; Showtime titles “Dexter,” and “Ray Donovan”; and MTV’s young-adult series and music shows, including the MTV Video Music Awards Japan.

“The launch of Paramount+ in Japan…is an important milestone for us and a critical step for the future of our streaming business,” Marco Nobili, EVP and international GM of Paramount+ International, said in a statement.

Yoichi Iwaki, president, representative director of J:Com, said the partnership expands upon an existing deal that saw Paramount+ stream MTV and a variety of movies and dramas to the cabler’s subscribers.

“We will strengthen our partnerships with both parties to enhance the value of the entertainment experience for our customers,” Iwaki said.

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‘Passion,’ From ‘Drive My Car’ Director, Due on Digital and Disc Oct. 17 From Film Movement

Film Movement will release the Japanese thriller Passion, the debut feature from Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), on digital, DVD and Blu-ray Disc Oct. 17.

Hamaguchi, one of today’s preeminent auteurs, examines a series of intersecting love triangles, plunging headlong into the exposed-nerve confessions and unrequited attachments among a group of thirtysomethings. It begins when a couple, Kaho (Aoba Kawai) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), announce their engagement to their friends over dinner, where it’s also revealed the groom had an affair years earlier. While the two spend the evening apart, Tomoya follows his friends to the apartment of his former classmate (Fusako Urabe, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), with whom he’s in love, and are led into ever more vulnerable and shocking exchanges of emotional honesty. 

Though it was made as his student thesis project at Tokyo University of the Arts, Passion displays Hamaguchi’s rich and nuanced insight into modern relationships while establishing the thematic foundations for his later films such as Happy Hour, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and Drive My Car.

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Bonus features include an introduction by Hamaguchi and the “From Passion to Fortune” video essay by film and theater writer Kenji Fujishima.

 

Japanese Stop-Motion Animated ‘Junk Head’ Due on Blu-ray Aug. 15 From MVD

The Japanese stop-motion animated Junk Head will be released on Blu-ray Disc Aug. 15 from Synergetic Distribution and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the sci-fi fantasy film, mankind can no longer reproduce because of gene manipulation aimed at making life longer. The clones ruling the bottomless underworld may have become fertile. Parton is selected to go on a mission through a subterranean labyrinth crawling with monsters to secure humanity’s future.

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Hailed by Academy Award Winning director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) as a “work of deranged brilliance,” the film won a 2021 New York Asian Film Festival Audience Award; a 2017 Fantasia Film Festival, Satoshi Kon Award, Best Animated Feature, Special Mention; a 2017 Fantastic Festival Best Director award for Takehide Hori; and a 2021 Festival Européen du Film Fantastique de Strasbourg Golden Stork Award.

Japanese Stop-Motion Animated ‘Junk Head’ Due on DVD July 11 From MVD and Synergetic

The Japanese stop-motion animated Junk Head will be released on DVD July 11 from Synergetic Distribution and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the sci-fi fantasy film, mankind can no longer reproduce because of gene manipulation aimed at making life longer. The clones ruling the bottomless underworld may have become fertile. Parton is selected to go on a mission through a subterranean labyrinth crawling with monsters to secure humanity’s future.

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The film won a 2021 New York Asian Film Festival Audience Award; a 2017 Fantasia Film Festival, Satoshi Kon Award, Best Animated Feature, Special Mention; a 2017 Fantastic Festival Best Director award for Takehide Hori; and a 2021 Festival Européen du Film Fantastique de Strasbourg Golden Stork Award.

Horror Flick ‘What the Waters Left Behind: Scars,’ Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy ‘Shin Ultraman’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD July 11 From MVD and Cleopatra

The horror flick What the Waters Left Behind: Scars and the Japanese science-fiction fantasy Shin Ultraman will be released on disc July 11 from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

What the Waters Left Behind: Scars is available on Blu-ray and DVD. In the film, after a packed gig in the middle of nowhere and a wild night out, an indie rock band’s RV gets stuck in the middle of nowhere. The situation is tense: there is trouble within the band and member Billy Bob (Matías Desiderio, Palermo Hollywood) lives up to his reputation as the band’s black sheep when he first sleeps with a groupie and then flees. The remaining band members Jane (Clara Kovacic, The 100 Candles Game) and Mark (Juan Pablo Bishel), as well as manager Javi (Agustin Olcese, The Red Book Ritual) and companion Sophie (Eugenia Rigón, Abracadabra) go in search of the ruins of Epecuén. They soon realize not only that they are not alone, but that they are also in acute danger — and that you should also be careful with groupies. Bonus features include trailers and a slide show.

Shin Ultraman, due on Blu-ray and DVD, is a reimagining of one of Japan’s classic superheroes, full of cosmic twists, villains, and giant Kaiju. The 37th film in the “Ultraman” franchise and the second reboot of a tokusatsu series to be adapted by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi — after the success of Shin Godzilla — it was the sixth highest-grossing domestic Japanese film of 2022, earning ¥4.44 billion (roughly $33.5 million). In the film, there’s never a dull day on Japan’s newly established SSSP Kaiju defense taskforce, led by Kimio Tamura, (Hidetoshi Nishijima, Drive My Car). After a particularly challenging encounter, a silver giant descends from the sky to rescue the planet. Dubbed Ultraman, the giant’s identity and purpose are a mystery. Nominated for eight Japan Academy Film Prize Awards (2023), including Best Picture and Best Director, the film also stars Hideaki Anno (Shin Godzilla) as Ultraman, Takumi Saitoh (13 Assassins) and Masami Nagasawa (Before We Vanish). Special features include trailers and a slide show. The Blu-ray features a bonus English-language version.

‘Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King’ Due on Blu-ray June 27 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King, the first installment from a newly curated collection on the most popular Ultra foes, on Blu-ray Disc June 27.

The release comes from Mill Creek’s license of the “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions Co. Ltd.

The “Skull Monster” Red King has been a fan favorite since he was introduced back in 1966. Incredibly strong but none-too-bright, the monster is a classic bully who loves nothing more than pummeling other kaiju and fighting Ultra heroes. The Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King set collects 16 Red King episodes from across the “Ultraman” franchise, starting with their first appearance in the original “Ultraman” series and continuing through to 2019’s “Ultraman R/B.”  Alongside the original Red King, the collection presents multiple versions of the monster, including an animated Red King, a Red King controlled by the mind of a teenage girl, and the powered-up, Popeye-armed EX Red King.

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Included in the two-disc Blu-ray release is the bonus special The Birth of Ultraman, a live stage show that introduced Ultraman, the Science Patrol, Red King and other monsters to Japanese audiences. Rounding out the set is a slipcase featuring Marvel Comics artwork, plus a 12-page collectible booklet and episode guide. 

The release features DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

 

Japanese Classic ‘Warm Water Under a Red Bridge’ Due on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital May 23 From Film Movement

Japanese filmmaker Shohei Imamura’s final film, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001), will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally May 23 from Film Movement.

Brimming with magical realism, sensuality and humor, the Palme d’Or-nominated classic tells the story of Yosuke Sasano (Koji Yakusho), an unemployed salaryman who arrives in a remote fishing village following a rumor of hidden treasure. Instead, he meets Saeko Aizawa (Misa Shimizu), a charming and unusual woman with a unique problem: a well of warm water inside her longing for release. Saeko faces both shame and adoration for her condition, which the local anglers believe feeds the river and its fish. Intrigued and enamored, Yosuke decides to take up a new life as a fisherman. Through their passionate affair, Imamura paints a picture of longing, fantasy, and the search for true happiness.

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Bonus features include the “Messy and Juicy” video essay by author and film curator Tom Vick and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by film scholar and writer Hwang Kyunmin.

 

Japanese Classic ‘Big Time Gambling Boss’ Due on Blu-ray Jan. 17 From MVD

The Japanese classic Big Time Gambling Boss will be released on Blu-ray Disc for the first time Jan. 17 as a limited edition from Radiance Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

Originally released in 1968, the film is set in Tokyo in the 1930s, where gang boss Arakawa is ill and a successor must be named. The choice falls on Nakai, but being an outsider he refuses and suggests senior clansman Matsuda instead. But Matsuda is in jail and the elders won’t wait for his release, so they appoint the younger and more malleable Ishido to take the reins. Clan honor and loyalties are severely tested when Matsuda is released, resulting in an increasingly violent internal strife.

An atmospheric tale of gangland intrigue written by Kazuo Kasahara (Battles Without Honor and Humanity) and starring Tomisaburo Wakayama (Lone Wolf and Cub, “The Bounty Hunter Trilogy”) and genre legend Koji Tsuruta, Big Time Gambling Boss is a classic of the Yakuza genre.

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Special features include a visual essay by genre expert Chris D on the film and its place within the period and genre; “Ninkyo 101,” a masterclass with Mark Schilling, author of The Yakuza Movie Book; a gallery of promotional imagery; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm; and a limited-edition booklet featuring new writing by author Stuart Galbraith IV and critic Hayley Scanlon. The limited-edition release includes 2,000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip.