Tōhō Motion Picture Company

▪ Japanese company
      leading Japanese motion-picture studio.

      The company was founded in 1936 by Kobayashi Ichizō, a former businessman who was the creator of an all-girl “opera troupe.” In 1932 he had organized the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre Corporation, subsequently acquiring several established theatres and building new and larger ones. His structures housed three or more separate theatres, a model that is still followed in Japan. In 1935 he gained control of two small companies, the PCL, a studio that had first used modern production methods, and the JO, a company that produced advertising films. The next year the Tōhō Motion Picture Distribution Corporation was formed to distribute films produced by these two studios. Famed director Kurosawa Akira was one of the company's earliest employees.

      Tōhō was the foremost Japanese filmmaker during World War II. After the war, however, it experienced severe labour difficulties over unionization. By 1948 Tōhō had ended production and was acting as a distributor for the films of the Shintōhō Motion Picture Company, which had been financed by Tōhō in 1947. The studio reopened and in the 1950s introduced the first successful Japanese-developed wide-screen process, Tohoscope, similar to the American CinemaScope technique.

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Universalium. 2010.

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