Daiei Motion Pictures (大映)

Daiei Motion Picture Company refers to a film company that operated from 1942 to 2002. The name Daiei was a shortened form of Dainippon Eiga Seisaku Kaisha. It was the predecessor of present-day Kadokawa Pictures. Although a late starter among the leading motion picture companies in Japan, Daiei was regarded a respected, longstanding company because it mainly inherited Nikkatsu Corporation's prewar film-making organization including the production division of Shinko Cinema (formerly known as the Teikoku Cinema) which was merged at the time of establishment and was split in the postwar period to become a parent organization of Toei Company, Ltd.

Wartime integration
In 1942, under the wartime government program to rationalize and consolidate small business enterprises, business integration took place in all industries.
The motion picture industry was no exception, with film production at Shinko Cinema, Daito Eiga and Nikkatsu being merged into 'Dainippon Eiga Seisaku Kaisha.'
The merger plan was initially for the consolidation of Shochiku and Toho only. However, Masaichi NAGATA, the president of Shinko Cinema's Kyoto studio, lobbied successfully to revise the consolidation plan into one involving three companies.

Shinko Cinema had originally been an affiliate of Shochiku. In spite of this, it became the foundation for the establishment of Daiei. Rumors persist to this day, more than sixty years later, that the head of Section 2, Department No. 5, of the Intelligence Bureau that had been responsible for the plan was bribed for the efforts. However, it can also be interpreted as a result of Nagata's decision to promote Daiei to the Intelligence Bureau in order for it to become a government-consolidated company. Nagata was arrested and detained on suspicion of corruption, prompted by tips from industry insiders. It must be noted that this fact and the rumors of bribery are recorded openly in Daiei's corporate history.

The company began with the taking over of Nikkatsu's Uzumasa Movie Studio in Kyoto, Tamagawa Movie Studio (presently Kadokawa Daiei Film Studio) in Chofu, Shinko Cinema's Kyoto Uzumasa Movie Studio (presently Toei Kyoto Movie Studios), Oizumi Movie Studio (closed shortly afterwards, currently Toei Tokyo Movie Studio) and Daito Eiga Studio in Sugamo (closed shortly afterwards), along with the production staff and actors of the three companies.

In 1943, Kan KIKUCHI assumed the position of Daiei's first president.

Initially the company name shown in the opening credits had the names of the former companies listed vertically and overlapping the Daiei logo.

In 1945, the company was renamed Daiei Motion Pictures. In 1947, its ties with Nikkatsu were severed under the provisions of the Anti-Monopoly Law. From this point in time Daiei operated as a purely private company, a rare case among the 'government-integrated companies' that were dissolved after Japan's defeat.

After the change in company name, the opening credits of its films showed the Daiei logo against a starry night sky, zooming into the phrase 'produced by Daiei Motion Pictures' in Japanese (written in the old-style right-to-left direction) to overlap the logo, stopping in position and then descending. This was used until around 1950.

In 1946, executive managing director Masaichi NAGATA was promoted to the position of vice president.

Daiei under Nagata
In 1947, President Kan KIKUCHI resigned to devote more time to writing. Vice president Masaichi NAGATA was then promoted president. Popular novelist Matsutaro KAWAGUCHI was invited to take office as senior managing director.

In 1948, the professional baseball team Kinboshi Stars was purchased to create 'Daiei Unions,' which was so renamed following a merger with Takahashi Unions, later becoming Daimai Orions with the merger with Chiba Lotte Marines. The 'mother series' with Aiko MIMASU as leading actress became a very popular series lasting for ten years.

In 1951, the film "Rashomon" (directed by Akira KUROSAWA) won the Grand Prix at the Venice International Film Festival.

In 1953, the film "Ugetsu monogatari" (Tale of Rainy Moon; directed by Kenji MIZOGUCHI) won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival.

Also, in 1954 the film "Jigokumon" (Gates of Hell; directed by Teinosuke KINUGASA) won the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival. Soon after, the film "Sansho-dayu" (directed by Kenji MIZOGUCHI) won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival.

In the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s, Daiei produced a large number of films led by Kazuo HASEGAWA and the three leading actresses Machiko KYO, Fujiko YAMAMOTO and Ayako WAKAO, as well as Raizo ICHIKAWA VIII. Daiei held top starts in Japanese motion picture history, and also produced films in which actors and actresses who were either freelance or under contract with other film companies, such as Hideko TAKAMINE, Koji TSURUTA and Keiko KISHI, appeared. In the 1960s, actors Shintaro KATSU and Jiro TAMIYA rose to stardom. At the same time, Daiei devoted itself to large-scale productions, such as joint productions with companies in Taiwan and other countries and 70mm film productions such as 'Shaka' (Shakyamuni) and 'Shin no Shikoutei' (Shi Hunagdi), both of which became box office hits. Daiei also held the distribution rights to Walt Disney films in Japan.

In 1958, Daiei created a television production office inside the company in order to begin TV movie production.

With the introduction of 'Daiei Scope' the opening credits were changed back to the familiar footage of sunlight shining through the clouds. This was used for both monochrome and color productions, until Daiei's final years.

In 1959, the Fuji Television Network was founded jointly by Daiei along with Toho, Shochiku, Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, and Nippon Broadcasting System.

In 1961, Daiei's the star of contemporary drama, Kenji SUGAWARA, left the company.

In 1962, Tokyo Stadium was built in Minamisenju, Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, as a professional baseball stadium. Popular young actor Hiroshi KAWAGUCHI (the first son of Matsutaro KAWAGUCHI), who appeared in Daiei's period drama films, left the company.

In 1963, Kazuo HASEGAWA, Japan's foremost actor of the prewar period known for his outstanding good looks and being the top Daiei star of the postwar period, retired from the motion picture industry. In addition, Fujiko YAMAMOTO, a top actress who was known as the most beautiful woman in Japan, requested permission to appear in films produced by other companies and to reduce the number of films required under contract, angering Daiei president Nagata and resulting in her dismissal and a ban on appearing in any film or theatrical production under the five-party agreement among the top film companies regarding management of film cast and crew. Later, Fujiko YAMAMOTO gained popularity on television with drama series such as the 'Yamamoto Fujiko Hour' and later appeared at the theater, but she has not appeared in motion pictures even though the agreement among the film companies has expired. Also in this year, the up-and-coming starlet Junko KANO retired from the industry. With top stars leaving the company in rapid succession, Daiei began to lose its movie-going fan base.

In 1965, Daiei's Tokyo Movie Studio produced "Daikaiju Gamera" (Gamera) to compete against Toho's special effect-laden productions, and it became a big hit. This series demonstrated the company's ability to use special effects and was a profit-making series right up until the company finally filed for bankruptcy. Its fan base, consisting chiefly of children, provided a measure of stability in the number of moviegoers and proved a major source of earnings in its final years.

In 1967, Shintaro KATSU, motivated by other top stars setting up their own movie production companies, set up Katsu Productions. However, in the mean time enormous debts incurred in motion picture production surfaced at Daiei.

In 1968, top star Jiro TAMIYA submitted a protest to Daiei for his name being listed fourth in the credits for the film "Fushin no Toki" (When in Doubt; written by Sawako ARIYOSHI) in spite of leading actor and was summarily fired by Daiei's president Nagata, unable to make appearances in motion pictures or TV dramas under the five-party agreement among the film companies. However, Tamiya became the host of a TV program entitled 'Quiz Time Shock' (aired by NET, presently the TV Asahi network) in 1969, successfully making the program a long-running show and only returning to movies in the 1970s after Daiei went under. He also appeared in various TV drama series, many of which became big hits. This marked the eventual collapse of the movie star system that built the golden age of the Japanese film industry and exposed the obstacles created by the film industry agreement. In the same year a young but popular actress Michiko SUGATA also left Daiei.

In 1969, Daiei's top actor and its last hope Raizo ICHIKAWA died young at the age of 37. With its top box office earners leaving in rapid succession, no big stars emerging to take their place, and the motion picture industry itself losing its luster in the face of the dynamic growth of the TV industry, the decline in its moviegoing audience was further exacerbated.

In April 1970, Daiei agreed to merge its film distribution network with Nikkatsu, also suffering from financial problems, and established Dainichi Eihai K.K. With the old-style movie production system losing its power, production plans began to center around violence, eroticism and the grotesque. Nikkatsu created series such as "Noraneko Rock" (Stray Cat Rock), "Neon Keisatsu" (Neon Police) and "Senso to Ningen" (War and Man), while Daiei focused on a younger audience with series with a sexual theme such as "Denki Kurage" (Electric Jellyfish), "Judai no Ninshin" (Teen Pregnancy) and "Osana-zuma" (Child Wife), as well as the "Kokosei Bancho" (High School Gang Leader) series and smaller films produced by Katsu Productions. However, this coalition of the weak soon had major difficulties.

In August 1971, Nikkatsu split from Dainichi Eihai. On November 29, 1971, dismissal notices were sent to all Daiei employees, and the company went bankrupt. Daiei TV, which broke away from the parent company immediately before the collapse, established itself as an independent company with a large number of former Daiei staff joining the company. Daiei Kyoto Movie Studio in Uzumasa, Kyoto closed. The company was to be run by its labor union for the time being, while a search was conducted for new management.

In 1972, the actors and production crew at the defunct Daiei Kyoto Movie Studio who had collaborated in the production of the TV period drama "Kogarashi Monjiro" set up Eizo Kyoto Film Company.

Tokuma Period
In 1974, the Daiei labor union concluded an agreement with Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd., led by Yasuyoshi TOKUMA, on the restructuring of the film company. A new business organization was established in September 1974, and this became a motion picture production subsidiary of Tokuma Shoten. Daiei Kyoto Movie Studio also managed to slash its debts by turning into a rental studio, selling real estate it owned and streamlining its work force. This also marked the start of film production based on books published by Tokuma Shoten (such as "Kimi yo Funnu no Kawa wo Watare" and "Ogon no Inu" by Juko NISHIMURA).

In 1982, the Sino-Japanese joint production "Mikan no Taikyoku," which commemorated the 10th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries, was premiered. The film marked the start of Tokuma's large-scale film productions, in the vein of the production approach taken in the past by Masaichi NAGATA.

In 1986, the Daiei Movie Studio in Uzumasa, Kyoto, was shut down and the property sold. Uzumasa Junior High School and others stand on part of the area today.

Following the science-fiction film "Shuto Soshitsu" in 1987, the Sino-Japanese mega-production "Tonko" was released in 1988. The film cost an all-time high of 4.5 billion yen to produce.

In 1992, the film entitled "Oroshia Kokusui Mutan" was shot in Russia amid the turmoil of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, at the cost of 2.5 billion yen. Debts from these mega-productions combined with the collapse of Japan's economic bubble resulted in cumulative losses not only for Daiei but for the entire Tokuma Shoten Group as well. Despite successes in smaller quality films such as "Shall We Dance?" and the "Gamera" series, Tokuma Shoten fell under the management of Sumitomo Bank, and rumors rose of Daiei's sale.

Yasuyoshi TOKUMA died in 2000.

In July 2002, Kadokawa Shoten concluded an agreement with Tokuma Shoten to take over Daiei's entire business operations, including motion picture and video production, distribution, and management of the Daiei Studio (Tamagawa Movie Studio) in Chofu. In November 2002, 'Kadokawa Daiei Motion Pictures' was established, with all business rights and the workforce at Daiei transferred to the new company, and marked the end of Daiei's 60-year history in filmmaking. The company was dissolved in January 2003 and liquidation was completed in April 2007. During this period, Daiei had been involved in the distribution of Chinese and Korean films in conjunction with Toko Tokuma (the Toko Tokuma business division of Tokuma Shoten).

After liquidation
In 2004, Kadokawa Daiei Motion Pictures was merged with Kadokawa's other video subsidiaries for reorganization. It was renamed Kadokawa Pictures following the change, and the Daiei Studio (Tamagawa Movie Studio) was renamed Kadokawa Daiei Movie Studio.

With the merger of the company with Kadokawa Herald Pictures in March 2006, the company became Kadokawa Herald Eiga.

In March 2007, the company was again renamed Kadokawa Pictures.

[Original Japanese]