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Film studio Shochiku's interim profit growth defies outlook

Hit romantic features lift box-office sales

Shochiku's in-house hit "Policeman and Me" helped boost first-half profit beyond projections.   © (Photo courtesy of Shochiku)

TOKYO -- A string of box-office hits lifted Shochiku's first-half net profit by a wholly unanticipated 13% on the year, the Japanese film studio said Thursday.

Shochiku recorded a group net profit of 2.6 billion yen ($23.1 million) for the six months ended August. That marks a complete reversal from its guidance, which predicted a 24% reduction to 1.7 billion yen.

Sales climbed 3% to 49.3 billion yen, or 540 million yen above the projection. One of the studio's biggest cash cows, grossing more than 1 billion yen, is "Policeman and Me," a romantic comedy about a policeman and a high-school girl that Shochiku produced in-house.

Hit films from other distributors, such as Disney's live-action feature "Beauty and the Beast," also sold out cinemas operated by a Shochiku subsidiary. The group's kabuki theater business is also drawing crowds, namely with Ichikawa Ebizo's performance at the Kabukiza theater in Tokyo.

Despite the encouraging first-half numbers, Shochiku has left its full-year outlook to February 2018 in place. That decision is based in part on delaying the release of "Laughing Under the Clouds" until the following fiscal year. The company expects net profit to fall 33% this fiscal year to 2.5 billion yen as sales shrink 1% to 94.7 billion yen.


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