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Hachiko-inspired movie sidesteps big screen

The modern-day, Richard Gere-infused retelling of the story of a loyal Japanese dog named Hachiko won’t be showing in theaters in the U.S.

Instead the movie, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” will make its American debut on Sunday on the Hallmark Channel, the New York Times reports.

The movie, which has already sold more than $45 million in tickets during its release in Asian, European and South American markets, is a contemporary retelling of the story of Hachiko, an Akita who, when his human companion, a college professor, died suddenly at work, continued for two years to return to the train station to wait for him.

Gere plays the professor and is also the movie’s producer. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also directed the Swedish coming-of-age film “My Life as a Dog.”

“Hachi” was shot primarily in Rhode Island, using three Akitas to play the different stages of the dog’s life.

“Hachi,” the Times reports, was not eagerly received by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio which controlled its distribution. Sony opted not to release it in American theaters.

“You think of all the people who really love their animals, love their dogs, love their cats, would embrace this specific movie,” Gere said. “But Sony just had no imagination for it. It was really bizarre.”

Hallstrom said the studio’s strategy was “a mistake of being overly worried about the size of the movie as opposed to the emotional impact of it.”

The Hallmark Channel, which broadcasts about 22 original movies a year, stepped in and bought it, and will premiere the film Sunday night.


Comment from manuel
Time September 25, 2010 at 1:33 am

Thanks for the explanation. I had been waiting for this movie to come out after hearing about it and seeing trailers on Youtube. Never heard anything again then a couple weeks ago I saw it at Blockbuster video. I checked Amazon and the DVD release date was March 2010. I’ve heard much about the story through my experience with Japanese anime. It’s a tear jerker for sure. I plan on seeing it. My only concern is the fact the story has been Americanized. Will the story still be as emotionally stirring as the original. Futurama did a version of Hachiko years ago–one of their better episodes.

Comment from Pamela
Time September 25, 2010 at 10:08 am

I figured this was doing to be a schlocky movie until I heard it was being directed by Lasse Hallstrom. I’m really disappointed this won’t be released in theaters. I don’t have a television so i won’t be watching the Hallmark channel.

I wonder what Sony was thinking!

Comment from Marilyn
Time September 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

So glad Hallmark showed this movie. Theaters
missed showing a good one. Hope this is on
again. Thank you Hallmark.

Comment from jasmie
Time September 21, 2011 at 5:17 am

i love this movie its best than others