Fresh off his best screenplay win at Cannes, in-demand Japanese screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto has inked a 5-year collaboration agreement with Netflix.
Sakamoto was already in business with Netflix as the writer and producer of the streamer’s upcoming big-budget Japanese mystery romance film In Love and Deep Water, set to premiere later this year. That project, which co-stars Ryo Yoshizawa and Aoi Miyazaki, has already been dubbed Sakamoto’s biggest and most ambitious project to date.
“Yuji Sakamoto continues to create a variety of masterpieces, ranging from socially conscious works to lighter comedies and love stories, that capture our hearts and minds and keep us coming back for more,” said Kaata Sakamoto, Netflix’s vp of content, about the deal unveiled Thursday. “We look forward to bringing Sakamoto’s unique, original storytelling to a global stage, coupled with the very best production environment and creative partnerships to realize his vision.”
In May, Sakamoto won the best screenplay award at the 76th Cannes International Film Festival for his work on Hirokazu Kore-eda’s mystery drama Monster. The film, which was also warmly received by critics, was Kore-eda’s first film since his feature debut that he didn’t write himself. The auteur, who won the 2018 Palme d’Or in Cannes, told The Hollywood Reporter that Sakamoto was the only screenwriter who could lure him away from directing his own writing.
Sakamoto has been a major creator for Japan’s screens large and small for decades. He adapted the popular manga Tokyo Love Story for Fuji TV in the 1990s and the show went on to become a major cultural phenomenon (its theme song is still Japan’s 9th best-selling single ever). He scored again with Fuji TV’s drama Mother, a huge hit in Japan that was later remade in France, Spain, South Korea, Thailand, China and Turkey. His film scripts have included popular melodramas like Crying Out Love in the Center of the World (2004) and We Made a Beautiful Bouquet (2021).
Netflix has been ramping up its Japan live-action slate in recent months. The company will premiere revenge series Burn the House Down in July, following recent launches of popular Japanese shows like Sanctuary (May, 2023), First Love (December, 2022), Kore-eda’s The Makanai: Cooking in the Maiko House (January, 2022) and the second season of Alice in Borderland (December, 2022), the most-watched Japanese show ever on Netflix. Later this year, the company will release live-action adaptations of iconic mangas Yu Yu Hakusho and City Hunter.
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