Japanese film and television production company

The Nikkatsu Corporation (日活株式会社, Nikkatsu Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese entertainment company known for its film and television productions. It is Japan's oldest major movie studio, founded in 1912 during the silent film era. The name Nikkatsu amalgamates the words Nippon Katsudō Shashin, literally "Japan Motion Pictures".



Nikkatsu's history dates back as early as 1912 when 4 companies merged to form Nippon Katsudo Shashin Corporation, the first film conglomerate in the region to produce, distribute and exhibit theatrical films. In 1952 Chofu Studio was built in Tokyo as the largest modern film studio in the Asia Pacific Region at the time; the studio even had a permanent set of Ginza city. It quickly became the cornerstone of the company's Golden Era, together with its string of attractive stars who were then all exclusive to Nikkatsu; the legendary superstar Yujiro Ishihara, handsome young actors under the "Nikkatsu New Face" banner including Akira Kobayashi and Joe Shishido; actresses such as Sayuri Yoshinaga and Ruriko Asaoka; and directors Seijun Suzuki and Shohei Imamura. Nikkatsu was the leading studio in Japan, enjoying box office mega-hits with its action films starring Ishihara ("Crazed Fruit"), teenage love stories starring Yoshinaga ("Cupola, Where the Furnaces Grow"), and "Branded to Kill" starring Joe Shishido, works with a continuing international appeal to this day - the films were so successful that Ishihara and Yoshinaga are still regarded as icons of the Showa period.

When cinema attendance began to drop, Japanese studios slashed their annual film production. Nikkatsu, however, took a unique turn in 1971 when it launched the "Nikkatsu Roman Porn" brand, namely films for the adult audience. As one director recalls, "I had total creative freedom, as long as I kept some nudity in the film", the brand enabled Nikkatsu to be the only major studio in Japan at the time to continue producing films and hire young film makers. Thus, Nikkatsu soon became the hub for upcoming innovative talents, and many of the directors who were given this rare opportunity, later became dominant film makers in Japan; amongst them are Oscar winner Youjiro Takita ("Departure"), multi-time Japanese Academy winners Masayuki Suo ("Shall We Dance?"), Yoshimitsu Morita, Youichi Sai, Shinji Soumai, and many more. The brand continued until 1988.

In 2005, Naoki Sato was appointed President of the company. Originally a producer himself, Nikkatsu's recent array of titles under his leadership includes cutting-edge genre films by Sion Sono and Takashi Miike, and dramatical masterpieces. They have been highly acclaimed, including numerous Japanese Academy winners and nominees such as "Rebirth", "Cold Fish" and "The Devil's Path".

Today, Nikkatsu's business activities include operation of the production studio, overseas film acquisition, distribution, a cable TV channel (Channel NECO) and a Film Course at Josai International University. It is also a member of the Yomiuri-Nippon TV group, the leading media conglomerate in Japan.

In today's fast evolving market, Nikkatsu has a focus on international activities - in 2014, the company established Kantana Japan, a JV with a Thai production group - and seeks to work more closely with partners outside the industry and around the globe.