A brief history of Hollywood trying — and mostly failing — to adapt anime

edge-of-tomorrow

A weird truth: Even in the midst of the current comic book gold-rush, major studios can’t seem to get a good anime or manga adaptation off the ground—although the influence of those works can be seen everywhere. This weekend’s Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic that’s heavily (perhaps even problematically) inspired by anime and manga. As tangentially connected to the art form as Big Hero 6 is, could it be the harbinger of a sea change in Hollywood’s approach to manga and anime?

Tackling this question can be kind of tricky—after all, “anime” and “manga” are styles rather than the names of genres. While works that fall under those umbrella share a general visual language and similar approaches to storytelling, anime and manga tell all sorts of stories—slice of life, romance, mystery, supernatural thriller, action.

One of the reasons it took so long for American filmmakers to even begin considering adapting manga or anime is because of how long it took for the source material to even become popular stateside. The first anime to find success here weren’t the action-heavy, mind-bending sort that would become prominent in the boom years of the late ’80s and early ’90s, but much lighter fare like Speed Racer and Astro Boy in the ’60s and ’70s. But even during those boom years, anime adaptations usually didn’t fare well. For example:

The GuyverOne of the first notable anime adaptations to be made in the US, this 1991 film starred Mark Hamil and was based off the 1985 manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, by Yoshiki Takaya. Both the film and manga centered on a young man who discovers The Guyver Unit, an alien device that spawns a sort of biological super-suit that an unwitting young man bonds with in order to fight an evil megacorporation (and also alien monsters). The film was panned both for being B-movie cheese and also for straying from the source material’s far darker, more violent story.

A direct-to-video sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero would stay closer to the manga’s more violent roots, but the rubber-suited aliens still left a lot to be desired when compared to the manga’s anime adaptation.

Street Fighter: While not technically based on an anime or manga, Capcom’s legendary fighting game would go on to inspire plenty of adaptations—including the notorious 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film. There are many reasons why this did not go well, but at least people saw it—unlike the 2009 reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which you’re probably remembering for the first time right now.

Fist of the North Star: Another hyper-violent action anime received an unfaithful adaptation that doubled as a really bad movie. Here’s clip from that movie. It is very bad. Unless it’s after 2 A.M., and you’re looking for this sort of thing. Then I suppose it’s great.

The MatrixWhile, again, not technically based on an anime or manga, The Matrix represents a watershed moment in how Hollywood looked at anime. According to producer Joel Silver, the Wachowskis pitched him the film by showing him an anime film (according to Wikipedia, it was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell), saying “We want to do that for real.” The 1999 film, with its mix of philosophical science fiction and stunning action scenes, is the closest a major Hollywood release had ever gotten to faithfully depicting the medium of anime. Incidentally, while a large number of anime adaptations would enter development in the intervening years, none would make it to the big screen until the Wachowskis’ next directorial effort, five years after 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.

The debt that the film franchise owed to anime would be acknowledged in the direct-to-video release The Animatrix, an anime anthology of short stories set in the film’s world.

Stronger: Kanye West’s music video for his hit 2007 single heavily references Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark 1980s anime film/manga series Akira. Let’s talk a little bit about Akira. Both the manga and the film adaptation are pinnacles of their respective mediums, cyberpunk masterworks that use their dystopian futures to explore deep philosophical and societal quandaries. Critically acclaimed in the U.S., Akira is largely responsible for popularizing anime and manga stateside. A Hollywood film adaptation has been in development hell since at least 2002—the last update came in February of 2014—but don’t hold your breath for it. It’s quite likely that Kanye’s music video is the closest we’ll get to an American adaptation—and maybe that’s a good thing.

Speed Racer: While it was poorly received at the time, the Wachowski’s Speed Racer succeeds by being exactly what it set out to be—a bright, colorful adventure for kids. Which, in turn, makes it exactly like its source material. Unfortunately, the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance very likely served to further stigmatize anime adaptations to big studios.

Dragon Ball: Evolution: Akira Toriyama’s seminal manga Dragon Ball and the anime it inspired, was, along with Sailor Moon, an entire generation’s introduction to the medium. As such, the series is pretty sacrosanct in the eyes of fans—and even if it doesn’t hold up all that well, it retained a certain heart and charm that never really gets old. The film that came out in 2009 had none of these things.

Pacific Rim: Like The Matrix, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster isn’t an adaptation of any particular manga or anime. Instead, it’s a Western take on giant mecha-action epics like Gundam. While it’s a pretty straightforward bit of sci-fi action, it is very, very good at what it does—and perhaps clears the way for the genre’s stranger, more complex fare like Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Oldboy: Spike Lee’s 2013 revenge thriller is an unfortunate case of Hollywood’s inability to leave well enough alone. Originally a 1996 manga by Goron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the story already received an acclaimed film adaptation in 2003 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook—one that’s far preferable to the American version. Which is a shame, because the U.S. cast is pretty stellar.

Edge of Tomorrow: Although it received really good reviews, Edge of Tomorrow didn’t perform so well in the box office. Perhaps if it kept the name of the manga it was based on — Hiroshi Sakurazaka and Yoshitoshi Abe’s All You Need Is Kill—it would’ve been more more memorable to those watching the trailers. But as the latest Hollywood effort in manga/anime adaptation, it’s quite the hopeful note to end on.

[UPDATE — As some readers have pointed out, All You Need Is Kill was originally a novel. The manga adaptation, by Ryusuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata, came out roughly at the same time as the film.]

While this list is pretty spare, it doesn’t include the wealth of optioned material languishing in development hell or shelved for any number of years. James Cameron’sBattle Angel Alita is a great example—the director has the rights to make a movie, but won’t even start thinking about that until he’s done with the next ten Avatar films.

But if you’re not too jaded by the number of non-starters, it’s quite possible that we’re now on the cusp of a new wave of quality Hollywood films based on anime and manga. With the previously-noted critical success of Edge of Tomorrow and reports of Scarlett Johanssen signing up for the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, it looks like Hollywood is finally ready to start looking at comic books that weren’t made in America for inspiration. If they do, then movie theaters will doubtless become a stranger—and more interesting—place.

Link

Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation

 

Homage Matrix DVD

RocketNews 24:

 

What do you think of when someone mentions Japan? Anime certainly may be one of the things that comes to mind with all the Japanese animations being seen around the world in recent years. In fact, those of us here in Japan are often amazed by how passionate and knowledgeable some foreign fans are about Japanese anime.

So, we guess it’s not a complete surprise if some Hollywood movies seem to have been influenced by Japanese anime. Movie creators would have watched anime too, and I think we all know to a certain extent how some anime or TV programs, especially ones that we saw as a child, can grab our imagination and never really completely go away.

Well, we happened to find a post on information-compilation site Naver Matome that listed some Hollywood blockbusters containing what seem to be subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) tributes and references to Japanese anime, which we thought would be fun to share with you. Let’s take a look below at the movies that were mentioned in the article.

 

1. Clash of the Titans 

Homage Titan DVD jacket

This visually stunning action adventure film is a remake of the 1981 classic based on the famous Greek myth of Perseus’s battle with the sea monster Kraken. In the 2010 remake directed by Louis Leterrier, the Olympian gods don’t wear traditional Greek robes but are instead clad in costumes that resemble medieval armor. Leterrier has said in an interview with the Japanese media that the armor-like costume was inspired by the anime Saint Seiya, which also borrows heavily from Greek legend and in which the characters battle with each other wearing special armor called “Cloths”. Leterrier says he is a huge of the anime which he saw in his native France and had thought the Cloths looked so cool that he wanted to pay homage to the anime in his movie. (Personally, this bit of information made me smile because it just so happens that I actually saw Saint Seiya on TV in France — although it was called by the fancier sounding French title Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque— when I home stayed in the country for about a month a long, long time ago when I was still in high school.)

 

▼Characters from Saint Seiya wearing their Cloths

Homage Titan Seiya

It’s hard to believe the popular anime, based on a manga of the same title, is now more than 20 years old! Back then, at least to me, the graphics seemed to be of very high quality by the standards of the time; okay, so the guys looked hot/cute/beautiful in their armor-style suits.

 

▼Zeus in his armor-like costume in Clash of the Titans — do you see a strong resemblance?

Homage Titan armor

2. The Matrix

Homage Matrix DVD

Many of you have probably seen this hit sci-fi movie, which caused a sensation in many parts of the world with its innovative story and stunning visual effects when it was released in 1999. It’s considered a classic cyberpunk movie, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the creators were inspired by anime of the same genre in making the film.

As those of you familiar with Japanese anime may expect, Akira and Ghost in the Shell are anime that are often cited as having influenced The Matrix.

 

▼Akira and Ghost in the Shell, both cyberpunk anime that likely had an influence on The Matrix

Homage AKIRA

Homage Ghost in the shell

The super-human powers exhibited by some of the characters in the Matrix are certainly evocative of parts of Akira, and Ghost in the Shell seems to have been even more of a strong influence, including the visual concept of a cable being connected into the neck, as well as the cinematography in some of the chase scenes. In fact, the directors of The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers, have said that they were so impressed with Ghost in the Shell that they wanted to make a live-action movie like it and even gave a video of the anime to the creative staff when making The Matrix as an example of the kind of world they wanted to create. Oh, and speaking of Japanese influence, did you know that the falling green digital code that appears in the movie contains mirror images of Japanese katakana letters?

Well, I certainly think the Wachowski Brothers succeeded here in making a film that leaves a strong and lasting impression. The Matrix is a movie that kind of gets to you, isn’t it,when you start to wonder about whether the world you live in is … well, really real?

 

3. Avatar

Homage Avatar DVD

This is another mega-blockbuster many of you will have seen. Although the plot, which involves greedy business and military oppressing and attacking an indigenous tribe for materialistic gain, is not particularly original, the movie does create a whole new world visually unlike any we had seen before. And that’s definitely something Hayao Miyazaki, anime producer and cofounder of Studio Ghibli, also excels at. James Cameron, who directed Avatar, admits that he is a big fan of Miyazaki’s films.

As such, it is no wonder if there seem to be parallels between Avatar and some of Miyazaki’s works, be it the industry/technology vs. nature theme, the uniquely vibrant colors or the amazing, speed-filled flight scenes. Movie fans have also been quick to point out that the presence of a strong, attractive female lead character is another element Avatar shares with many of Miyazaki’s works, particularly bringing to mind San in Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind — both young women who battle fiercely against armies possessing sophisticated technology to protect the precious natural environment around them.

 

▼Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, both films featuring young, strong heroines fighting to save the world they live in

Homage Princess Mononoke

Homage Nausicaa

There are also many visual details in Avatar that are reminiscent of images from Miyazaki’s anime, like the floating islands of rock that bear a noticeable resemblance to the floating castle Laputa in Castle in the Sky, or the supernaturally powerful tree with healing tendrils, which is a concept that also appears in Princess Mononoke. I’m sure it’s a testament to the creative genius of James Cameron and his team that they succeeded in making such a beautifully unique and thoroughly engaging movie while at the same time incorporating elements that we have seen before in some very well-known anime films.

 

4. Real Steel

Homage Real Steel

Perhaps befitting a movie set in a world where robots programmed to engage in boxing matches in place of human boxers, Real Steel is another film that contains images and references evocative of Japanese anime, which is after all, famous for its robot/mecha genre, among which some hugely popular anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion can be counted.

What could be more symbolic than the fact that the robot the main character comes into possession of is named Atom? Although the name may not necessarily ring a bell with those of you outside of Japan, Atom is actually the name by which Astro Boy , the iconic anime robot character, is known in Japan. I’m sure a lot of Japanese movie viewers smiled at that, since we all love Astro Boy here in Japan — in fact, I think most people over a certain age can sing the anime theme song completely by heart.

 

▼Astro Boy, or Atom as he is known in Japan

Homage Astro Boy 1

Another anime that viewers of Real Steel may be reminded of is the classic Tetsujin 28-go, which was released in the United States as Gigantor. The design of some of the robots in Real Steel seem to bear a certain resemblance to those in the anime, and what’s more, the robot in Tetsujin 28-go is controlled by a young boy, which is also the case in Real Steel.

 

▼Tetsujin 28-go, the original Japanese version of Gigantor

Homage Tetsujin

Of course, for those of us in Japan, it was also good fun to see some other references to Japan as well in the movie, albeit not necessarily anime-related, such as one of the robots being initially set to be controlled in Japanese, and the young boy managing to give some commands in Japanese, saying that he learned the words playing Japanese video games. Well, you have to admit it is kind of nice when your country receives a positive nod of recognition in a big Hollywood movie.

 

5. Transformers 

Homage Transformers

I guess this sci-fi action film can be considered as receiving a kind of honorable mention here, as the movie is not exactly a work containing Japanese influences but rather based on a franchise that started as a line of transforming robot toys that was produced jointly by a Japanese and American toy company, so the series does have a good part of its origins in Japan.

 

▼Transformer toys from Takara Tomy

Homage Transformers toys 1

Since then, it seems that the whole franchise, including the animated series, has been a combined effort between American and Japanese companies with South Korea involved as well in the animation.

 

▼One of the earlier animated versions

Homage Transformers animated

Some fans also seem to think that the basic concept and some of the designs of the original Transformer toys were likely influenced by the anime series Macross.

 

▼The Macross anime series — the robotics certainly look sophisticated

Homage Macross

The Transformers anime was certainly a hit in Japan, but the question of whether it is technically an American or Japanese series still appears to be a subject up for debate even today. Well, either way, it’s certainly been a good source of entertainment for us, and we can’t complain about that.

 

Check out this link:

Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation

Link

Five Hollywood movies with a taste of Japanimation

Homage Matrix DVD

RocketNews 24:

What do you think of when someone mentions Japan? Anime certainly may be one of the things that comes to mind with all the Japanese animations being seen around the world in recent years. In fact, those of us here in Japan are often amazed by how passionate and knowledgeable some foreign fans are about Japanese anime.

So, we guess it’s not a complete surprise if some Hollywood movies seem to have been influenced by Japanese anime. Movie creators would have watched anime too, and I think we all know to a certain extent how some anime or TV programs, especially ones that we saw as a child, can grab our imagination and never really completely go away.

Well, we happened to find a post on information-compilation site Naver Matome that listed some Hollywood blockbusters containing what seem to be subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) tributes and references to Japanese anime, which we thought would be fun to share with you. Let’s take a look below at the movies that were mentioned in the article.

1. Clash of the Titans 

Homage Titan DVD jacket

This visually stunning action adventure film is a remake of the 1981 classic based on the famous Greek myth of Perseus’s battle with the sea monster Kraken. In the 2010 remake directed by Louis Leterrier, the Olympian gods don’t wear traditional Greek robes but are instead clad in costumes that resemble medieval armor. Leterrier has said in an interview with the Japanese media that the armor-like costume was inspired by the anime Saint Seiya, which also borrows heavily from Greek legend and in which the characters battle with each other wearing special armor called “Cloths”. Leterrier says he is a huge of the anime which he saw in his native France and had thought the Cloths looked so cool that he wanted to pay homage to the anime in his movie. (Personally, this bit of information made me smile because it just so happens that I actually saw Saint Seiya on TV in France — although it was called by the fancier sounding French title Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque— when I home stayed in the country for about a month a long, long time ago when I was still in high school.)

▼Characters from Saint Seiya wearing their Cloths

Homage Titan Seiya

It’s hard to believe the popular anime, based on a manga of the same title, is now more than 20 years old! Back then, at least to me, the graphics seemed to be of very high quality by the standards of the time; okay, so the guys looked hot/cute/beautiful in their armor-style suits.

▼Zeus in his armor-like costume in Clash of the Titans — do you see a strong resemblance?

Homage Titan armor

2. The Matrix

Homage Matrix DVD

Many of you have probably seen this hit sci-fi movie, which caused a sensation in many parts of the world with its innovative story and stunning visual effects when it was released in 1999. It’s considered a classic cyberpunk movie, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the creators were inspired by anime of the same genre in making the film.

As those of you familiar with Japanese anime may expect, Akira and Ghost in the Shell are anime that are often cited as having influenced The Matrix.

Akira and Ghost in the Shell, both cyberpunk anime that likely had an influence on The Matrix

Homage AKIRA

Homage Ghost in the shell

The super-human powers exhibited by some of the characters in the Matrix are certainly evocative of parts of Akira, and Ghost in the Shell seems to have been even more of a strong influence, including the visual concept of a cable being connected into the neck, as well as the cinematography in some of the chase scenes. In fact, the directors of The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers, have said that they were so impressed with Ghost in the Shell that they wanted to make a live-action movie like it and even gave a video of the anime to the creative staff when making The Matrix as an example of the kind of world they wanted to create. Oh, and speaking of Japanese influence, did you know that the falling green digital code that appears in the movie contains mirror images of Japanese katakana letters?

Well, I certainly think the Wachowski Brothers succeeded here in making a film that leaves a strong and lasting impression. The Matrix is a movie that kind of gets to you, isn’t it,when you start to wonder about whether the world you live in is … well, really real? (And I think the movie also messed with my mind in a totally different way as well, since I ended up going to see the film three times simply because Keanu Reeves looked so gorgeous — but that was a long time ago.)

3. Avatar

Homage Avatar DVD

This is another mega-blockbuster many of you will have seen. Although the plot, which involves greedy business and military oppressing and attacking an indigenous tribe for materialistic gain, is not particularly original, the movie does create a whole new world visually unlike any we had seen before. And that’s definitely something Hayao Miyazaki, anime producer and cofounder of Studio Ghibli, also excels at. James Cameron, who directed Avatar, admits that he is a big fan of Miyazaki’s films.

As such, it is no wonder if there seem to be parallels between Avatar and some of Miyazaki’s works, be it the industry/technology vs. nature theme, the uniquely vibrant colors or the amazing, speed-filled flight scenes. Movie fans have also been quick to point out that the presence of a strong, attractive female lead character is another element Avatar shares with many of Miyazaki’s works, particularly bringing to mind San in Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind — both young women who battle fiercely against armies possessing sophisticated technology to protect the precious natural environment around them.

Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, both films featuring young, strong heroines fighting to save the world they live in

Homage Princess Mononoke

Homage Nausicaa

There are also many visual details in Avatar that are reminiscent of images from Miyazaki’s anime, like the floating islands of rock that bear a noticeable resemblance to the floating castle Laputa in Castle in the Sky , or the supernaturally powerful tree with healing tendrils, which is a concept that also appears in Princess Mononoke. I’m sure it’s a testament to the creative genius of James Cameron and his team that they succeeded in making such a beautifully unique and thoroughly engaging movie while at the same time incorporating elements that we have seen before in some very well-known anime films.

4. Real Steel

Homage Real Steel

Perhaps befitting a movie set in a world where robots programmed to engage in boxing matches in place of human boxers, Real Steel is another film that contains images and references evocative of Japanese anime, which is after all, famous for its robot/mecha genre, among which some hugely popular anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion can be counted.

What could be more symbolic than the fact that the robot the main character comes into possession of is named Atom? Although the name may not necessarily ring a bell with those of you outside of Japan, Atom is actually the name by which Astro Boy , the iconic anime robot character, is known in Japan. I’m sure a lot of Japanese movie viewers smiled at that, since we all love Astro Boy here in Japan — in fact, I think most people over a certain age can sing the anime theme song completely by heart.

▼Astro Boy, or Atom as he is known in Japan

Homage Astro Boy 1

Another anime that viewers of Real Steel may be reminded of is the classic Tetsujin 28-go, which was released in the United States as Gigantor. The design of some of the robots in Real Steel seem to bear a certain resemblance to those in the anime, and what’s more, the robot in Tetsujin 28-go is controlled by a young boy, which is also the case in Real Steel.

Tetsujin 28-go, the original Japanese version of Gigantor

Homage Tetsujin

Of course, for those of us in Japan, it was also good fun to see some other references to Japan as well in the movie, albeit not necessarily anime-related, such as one of the robots being initially set to be controlled in Japanese, and the young boy managing to give some commands in Japanese, saying that he learned the words playing Japanese video games. Well, you have to admit it is kind of nice when your country receives a positive nod of recognition in a big Hollywood movie.

5. Transformers 

Homage Transformers

I guess this sci-fi action film can be considered as receiving a kind of honorable mention here, as the movie is not exactly a work containing Japanese influences but rather based on a franchise that started as a line of transforming robot toys that was produced jointly by a Japanese and American toy company, so the series does have a good part of its origins in Japan.

▼Transformer toys from Takara Tomy

Homage Transformers toys 1

Since then, it seems that the whole franchise, including the animated series, has been a combined effort between American and Japanese companies with South Korea involved as well in the animation.

▼One of the earlier animated versions

Homage Transformers animated

Some fans also seem to think that the basic concept and some of the designs of the original Transformer toys were likely influenced by the anime series Macross.

▼The Macross anime series — the robotics certainly look sophisticated

Homage Macross

The Transformers anime was certainly a hit in Japan, but the question of whether it is technically an American or Japanese series still appears to be a subject up for debate even today. Well, either way, it’s certainly been a good source of entertainment for us, and we can’t complain about that.

So, that brings us to the end of the list of movies that were mentioned in the Naver Matome article. What did you think? Were you aware of these movies seemingly containing elements of Japanese anime? And do you agree with the observations here?

Source: Naver Matome (Japanese) 

Check out this link:

Five Hollywood movies with a taste of Japanimation

Link

Legendary movie producer Run Run Shaw dies at 106

 

The Hollywood Reporter:

Sir Run Run Shaw - H 2014

Legendary media mogul Run Run Shaw has died. He was 106.

Born on Nov. 23, 1907, in Ningbo, south of Shanghai, in the waning days of China’s last imperial dynasty, Shaw was the youngest of six sons of textile merchant Shaw Yuh Hsuen.

By the late 1960s, Shaw had risen to the status of media mogul unrivaled in Asia, growing his family’s theater chain, film studio and television network Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) into a multibillion-dollar empire that helped launch the careers of some of today’s biggest Chinese stars, including Maggie CheungAndy Lau and Chow Yun-fat.

In addition to amassing the world’s largest library of Chinese films and helping to ignite a global kung-fu craze in the 1970s, Shaw also backed Hollywood hits such as director Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction classic Blade Runner and had untold influence on directors ranging from Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill) to Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix).

With his vision and energy, he had built the station to become Hong Kong’s premier television station and a world leader in the Chinese-language television industry,” TVB said in a statement.

Raised in China, Shaw received his education in American-run schools. In 1925, his elder brothers founded Tianyi Film Productions in Shanghai with the movie New Leaf. At age 19, during his 1927 summer vacation, Shaw followed his third elder brother, Run Me Shaw, to Singapore to start a film market and establish a Southeast Asia distribution base.

Recognizing the strength of the Chinese diaspora, they set about distributing Chinese opera films from Shanghai. By 1934, the elder Shaw brothers had established a Tianyi office in the British colony of Hong Kong, calling it Unique Film Productions, where Run Run would not assume control of production until 1957. Shaw Brothers was founded in 1958 with Run Run Shaw as president.

In 1966, Life magazine published an article on Shaw’s Movie Town studio, and in 1967, Shaw Brothers had a true hit when The One Armed Swordsman fought its way to the top at Hong Kong’s box office — then the region’s richest — to become the first movie to earn more than HK$1 million in local ticket sales, propelling star Jimmy Wang Yu to fame.

Seeing room for growth, Shaw immediately established TVB, the first over-the-air commercial station in Hong Kong, on Nov. 19, 1967.

In 1973, Five Fingers of Death, starring Lo Lieh, set U.S. and European box office records, igniting a kung-fu craze around the world that would propel stars like Bruce Lee to global fame.

By the mid-1970s, Shaw Studios was producing 40 movies a year, and some 250,000 people per day went to see them at 143 Shaw-owned theaters from Hong Kong to Jakarta, plus thousands more in Chinatowns around the world.

Soon Shaw Brothers was co-producing films with Warner Bros. (Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold) and putting $16 million into MGM’s production of the film version of James Clavell’s best-selling novel Taipan, shot in Hong Kong at Shaw Studios in 1986.

Through the late 1970s, Shaw often made movies for $300,000 each without a soundtrack, dubbing them later into English, Italian, French and Mandarin Chinese. Often films were shot in three versions: the racy “hot” one for the U.S., Japan and Europe; a “cold” one, showing no flesh at all, for Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan; and a “medium” one for the Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong audience.

Shaw had four children with his first wife, Wong Mei Chun, whom he married in 1937. Wong died at age 85 in 1987, and Shaw Studios stopped filming in the same year. Ten years later, in 1997, Shaw remarried, taking Mona Fong Yat-wa as his bride in Las Vegas. Fong became a deputy chairman of TVB in 2000.

Also in 2000, Shaw agreed to the sale of his unique library of 760 classic Chinese movie titles for $77.37 million to Celestial Pictures Ltd., a Hong Kong-based company owned by Astro All Asia Networks of Malaysia.

In the early 2000s, Shaw Studios entered a new era with Shaw’s own majority investment (made through his various holding companies) in the $180 million Hong Kong Movie City project, a 1.1-million-square-foot, full-service studio and production facility in Tseung Kwan O in eastern Hong Kong.

In 2007, coinciding with his 100th birthday, Shaw was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Although his direct involvement in film had diminished, his legacy lived on in the careers of many stars he helped launched through TVB’s steady stream of beauty pageants, soap operas, variety shows and dramas. The annual TVB Music Awards remains one of the most widely watched television events around Asia.

Also in 2007, TVB posted revenue of $559 million. That same year, Forbes estimated the worth of the Shaw media empire at $3.5 billion.

Reflecting at the peak of his fame in 1976, Shaw told Time magazine, “A small screen can never compare with a big screen. Movie houses will carry on. People like to go out, they like to be in a crowd…as long as the Chinese population in Asia is big, I will get back my investment. Besides, I make movies only for entertainment, never politics.”

In December, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) presented a special award to Shaw in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cinema.

Not one to hoard his wealth, Shaw donated billions of dollars to charity over the years, most recently contributing $13 million for disaster relief after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. His name adorns many hospital and school buildings in China and Hong Kong.

In 2004, 40 years after Chinese astronomers named an asteroid after him, Shaw established an annual international science award, the Shaw Prize, giving $1 million each to three people doing promising research in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and life and medical science.

Shaw is survived by four children and nine grandchildren. Shaw’s granddaughter Soo-wei Shaw was appointed head of the Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2008.

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Legendary movie producer Run Run Shaw dies at 106