Netflix has lined up its next big-budget feature for Japan, a key growth market for the global streaming business. The company has greenlit a suspenseful rom-com romp titled In Love and Deep Water from veteran drama screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto (Tokyo Love Story, Kadin). Sakamoto describes the project as “a romantic comedy delivered on an unprecedented scale” for the Japanese film industry.

Yusuke Taki will direct, with Nikkatsu and Django Film handling the local production for Netflix.

In Love and Deep Water is set on the MSC Bellissima, a massive luxury cruise ship headed for the Aegean sea. While at sail, the Bellissima’s loyal butler Suguru and a mysterious woman named Chizuru cross paths as they try to uncover a shocking murder-mystery that occurs early in the voyage.

Ryo Yoshizawa (Sakura, Kingdom) stars as Suguru and Aoi Miyazaki (Future Family, Birthday Card) plays Chizuru. The starry cast also includes Yoh Yoshida as the recently appointed captain Hatsumi; Rinko Kikuchi as an unfaithful film producer named Aina; Kento Nagayama as Shintaro, a young actor who wants to appear in a film shown at Cannes Film Festival; Yuki Izumisawa as former yakuza member Ryuki; Aju Makita as Shiori, the daughter of a yakuza boss; Hatsunori Hasegawa as Sohei, the godfather of the medical world; Ken Yasuda as his son Michihiko; and Saki Takaoka as Michihiko’s wife, Misaki. Additional appearances will also be made by young stars Yunho as Kanato, the son of the housekeeper, and Rumika Ogai as the daughter of Misaki and Michihiko.

“I always wanted to make a film like that, but I never thought I would be able to,” Sakamoto explains in a statement. “With this film, the dream I had given up on has come true. I believe viewers will be able to spend a dream-like time with lovely music, beautiful costumes, and charming people brought to life by the ultimate cast, beginning with Ryo Yoshizawa and Aoi Miyazaki. I hope you will enjoy this rich and romantic ocean cruise.”

Subscription streaming services in Japan counted 48.4 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2022, with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video accounting for nearly half of the market, according to a report from regional research firm Media Partners Asia. Disney+ also has been making steady gains in Japan since launching locally about two years ago, but it still trails Netflix and Amazon, which both debuted in the market years prior, by a wide margin.

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