Born in 1934, Isao Matsuoka joined Toho Company, Japan’s leading entertainment conglomerate, in 1957 following his graduation from Konan University. He became a studio executive in 1970, vice president in 1974 and president in 1977. He was appointed chairman of the studios in 1995, a position he held until his retirement in May 2009. Matsuoka is credited with establishing Toho as the undisputed leader in film production, distribution, exhibition and live theatre production in Japan today.
Established in 1932, Toho is known worldwide for the success of the Godzilla monster films which have won fans across the globe. Toho is also one of the major producers and exhibitors of live theatre production in Japan pioneering the introduction of Broadway and West End musicals to the Japanese audience beginning with My Fair Lady in 1963.
In the late 1970s, Matsuoka revolutionised the company with innovative ideas and bold reforms at a time when the Japanese industry was in crisis. He created the film programming department and consolidated it with marketing, distribution and exhibition departments to assist in streamlining the film business and maximizing the company’s revenue.
Toho’s acquisition of Virgin Cinemas in 2003 and the consolidation of its regional exhibition companies saw them amass the territory’s highest screen count. Eight of last year’s top ten domestic films were distributed by Toho. The company earned US$ 765 million (Y73.91 billion) for that year, representing 40.1% of the entire market. The figure broke previous records for the third consecutive year.
Matsuoka also serves as chairman of the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan and is a board member at Fuji Television and various industry organisations.