Masayoshi Minato is a reporter for the Kyodo News Service based in Tokyo. He says that in recent months what are called "content funds" are getting a lot of attention in Japan, particularly among movie fans and specifically younger people. These are oft-times called "film funds" or "idol funds," where movie companies offer stock to individual investors for a certain product. Keep in mind that when you deal with the movie business, you are talking about a high-return but high-risk product.

Shochiku Company in Tokyo is now offering Japan's first movie fund for private investors through three securities firms. At the end of last month, it made a public offering to fund the movie "Shinobi" (Heart Under Blade) for release worldwide later on this year. Shinobi is another Japanese word for ninja and obviously we are talking about a samurai movie.

So, what it comes down to is that an investor can pony up a minimum of $950 per unit. The fund is looking to raise $9.5 million. Hmmm. 950 and 9.5 mill. That's quite a spread. Investors will receive a certain percentage of whatever the movie brings in as well as when it goes to video.

Although Shochiku claims that the film will be a major success (anybody want to buy a bridge?), it does admit there is a level of risk for the investor. Now, there are two understatements, to say the least.

Therefore, in order to lessen the risk factor, the company says that the fund will have two types. The first guarantees repayment of 90 percent of the principal while the other guarantees 60 percent of the principal. If you listen to Shochiku, you get this scenario: If the total sales of the movie along with any DVDs reach some $72 million on maturity in December of 2006, the 90 percent fund will yield some $1,000 per unit with an annual dividend of 6.5 percent while the 60-percent fund will yield $1,400 per unit and an annual dividend of 25.9 percent.

Oh, by the way, Minato says that depending on how much you invest and in what type, you may benefit from an invitation to a special screening of the film as well as promotional stuff such as t-shirts, hats, and towels. Oh, my heart be still!

So, I ask you, what are your wishes? Yeah, me too!

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