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The Lost Crown is the third instalment of the Professor Yuko franchise, and was released in late YE 41. It was produced by Firefly Films, a subsidiary of Anisan production house. The franchise's star, Shiba Koki, returns to portray the title character, alongside crewmembers such as director Hiruken Kayo. It is a prequel to Professor Yuko and the Secret of The Tomb.
|Release||12 December YE 41|
|Content rating||PG-13, Violence and Scary Content|
|Directed by||Hiruken Kayo|
|Produced by||Hirago Mate, Kunida Soh & Okana Kuemon|
|Written by||Karathi Migotha, Ronald Frankton|
|Story by||Marcus Elester|
|Starring||Shiba Koki, Maria Gremper & Karawa Moti|
|Music by||Johann Wilhelmus|
|Costs||~25 million KS|
|Screen time||~118 minutes|
|Production Company||Firefly Films & Vibrant Cloud Filmworks|
|Distributed by||Yukosfilm Ltd|
|Tag-line||“The rise of Yuko!”|
As with the previous films, information about the plot is sparse and the screenwriting is kept a closely guarded secret. The known plot details comes from Yukosfilm Ltd's own summary, and closely scripted interviews with cast and crew.
“Professor Yuko returns! But now, he is a much younger man. Experience his rise to world fame as he seeks adventure with a young woman in despair and a little brave boy, against the biggest evil he has yet faced on screen. Discover as Yuko finds an ancient crown embedded with strange powers and an evil curse. Join in as Yuko and his two companions race against time to return the crown to its resting place! Shiba Koki returns as Yuko, along with new faces like Maria Gremper, and a score of new villains led by Karawi Moti.”
In an interview with screenwriter Ronald Frankton, he said that elements from scrapped material from the first movies would be reused, and that both Ronald Makron and Oishi Tokuwi would be returning in some manner, as well as minor castmembers like Yoshi Makote, Marokin Shoa, and Lewis Astar. Director Kayo revealed that the film would be 'darker' than the first two movies, with more serious tones.
(From Yukosfilm Ltd transcript)
The second film of Professor Yuko proved to be an even bigger success than the first, making almost 350 million in gross. Director Kayo therefore asked if Marcus Elester, the spiritual creator of Professor Yuko, had any more adventures that we wanted told on the big screen. Elester began work on a third series of stories, but also urged Kayo to use unused footage from the other films, to keep the original story in. Karathi Migotha and Ronald Frankton, both screenwriters of the previous movies, worked with Elester to directly translate the story to a screenplay.
Many aspects were introduced to the story, beginning with the idea of it being a prequel. This allowed Yuko to be paired with other companions and new villains. Most of the story of Elester was kept intact, a departure from uch of the work on the previous film, but Elester also introduced some darker motives and 'grey areas' for his characters, which went into the screenplay. Kayo also urged for some characters to return in a supporting fashion, such as Yuko's father Mio and his mentor Gennai, who were the stars of the first movies.
Producer Higaro Mate returned to produce the film after he left for the second instalment to produce two other films. Vibrant Cloud Filmworks remained attached due to their expertise in construction and set design, while Firefly retained the role of main producer. Many other crew, such as the camera operator Högmann, production designer Maro, and costume designer Cagnasteriff, returned to fulfill their duties. Lushi Kantore returned for make-up duties, but Gerald Mulhausen, who quit after the first instalment, returned as her assistant. Donald Gleeston departed as cinematographer, but was replaced by Albus Haupt, who was camera operator on the first two instalment. He was replaced by Nick Haysley on the second unit, and Ronald Agherton remained as backup. Johann Wilhelmus continued to provide the score for the franchise, and Tikati Mo returned as Sound Mixer. Jigato Mar remained visual supervisor, but Henry Murrel returned as VFX editor. Ronald Makron also became associate producer, but left as dialogue coach, which passed to Elester.
Principal photography began in january YE 40, after the release of the second instalment. The first scenes where shot in Kyoto, including at the Crossroads Complex. More work was done on set in this film than the previous ones. More shooting was done on Anisa, in Vibrant's Cloudworks studios. These also included outdoors scenes around the complex. Shooting was finished in december YE 40, a record time for the production of this franchise. Most footage was shot using 35mm HydroScope cameras, but some were shot with the 70mm Super HydroScope, even more than the second instalment.
A total of eight dolly rigs were used in the filming, as well as two helicopter cameras, which were introduced for the first time in the franchise.
Like the previous film, Johann Wilhelmus scored his soundtrack using raw footage and pre-visualised scenes, which allowed him to devise the correct musical tehems and rhythms. The film was edited into Wilhelmus' score. Most themes, such as the main theme, 'Professor March', were taken from earlier recordings or re-recorded into new segments. Wilhelmus revealed that one of the themes introduced in the second film will be carried over as well, but that most of the score were new works.
Special effects remained on the same level as the previous film, but motion capture was scrapped from the film due to time and budget constraints. Bartolemeus, senior sound designer, continued his practice of creating sounds live on set, with Tikati Mo receiving the same equipment as last films, but with updated software. Visaul effects were put in place, with most effects being created practically through mechanical or electronic means. Less saturation was used, but Colour Toning still remained large for the enhancing of scenes. More CGI was also used, but mostly to enhance crowd scenes and physical preformances, and no entire characters were made in the computer. This meant that the budget was almost as high as the second film, however without the costs of motion capture.
Post-production was the focus of the entirety of YE 41, supposedly due to the rushed state in which it was done in the second instalment. Therefore, the release date was placed at 12 december, to mimic the other films. The film received a PG-13 rating, with 'Violent' and 'Scary Content' warnings, the same as the previous films.
Since the reveal from Yukosfilm Ltd in January YE 41, fans have eagerly awaited the release of the film. During the YukosCon of YE 41, it was voted by 1,500 voters as the “most anticipated film” for Yukosfilm that year. The interview panel saw an attendance of 8,000, almost half of the previous film. It managed to get the most views for up to three days on the Yamatai Interstellar News Network (YINN). With that, appreciation of the film is somewhat lesser than the first two, but the fan base has put forth much adoration for the film already.
Critics were less positive than the first films, however praised that the cast and crew were kept together and that some of the crew of the first film returned. Kyoto Times voted positively for the pre-release anticipation, and also promoted the decision of a prequel. At Film Entertainment Online a group of 120 voters voted 'top/flop', divided at '112/8', with many critics appreciating the continued work of the cast and crew.
The film received some sceptiscism. Filmgoers Magazine voted negative on the previews, from a group of 16 critics. They critisised the need for endless 'sequels and prequels' and the apparent lack of Araya Mioko. Critic Mirutu Jen voted negative, stating that the film would lead to 'Yuko fatigue' and be 'A tragic downfall of the franchise'.