The Guide to Japanese Film Industry & Co-Production (2009)


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The Guide to Japanese Film Industry & Co-Production (2009)

  1. 1. The Guide toJapanese Film Industry & Co-Production2009UNIJAPAN
  2. 2. Contents2 3¡About this guide................................................................................................ 4 Foreword.............................................................................................................. 5Chapter 1 Japan’s Film Industry Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development ........................................ 7 1. Japanese Film after World War II ............................................................. 7 2. Importing Films ...................................................................................... 8 3. 1950s Mark the Peak of the Japanese Film Industry.................................. 9 4. From 1960s Onwards—Japanese Film Industry in decline ..................... 10 5. Boom of Artistic Films and Mini-Theaters.............................................. 10 6. Video Rental Stores and V-Cinema ......................................................... 12 7. Multiplex Cinemas ................................................................................. 13 8. Increasing Number of Screens and Plateauing Number of Audience ....... 14 9. TV Networks Entering the Film Industry................................................ 15 10. IT Companies Entering the Film Industry............................................... 16 11. The Japanese Film Bubble —shift from imported films to Japanese films......................................... 16 Overview of the Japanese Box-office for Year 2008 ........................................ 18 1. Japanese Films Exceed Imported Films ................................................... 18 2. Further Polarization between Majors and Independents ......................... 19 3. Box-office of Japanese Films................................................................... 20 4. Box-office of Imported Films ................................................................. 22 Major Distributors............................................................................................ 25 Statistics 2008.................................................................................................... 37Chapter 2 Co-production System in Japan Development of Co-production System and Its Structure............................ 40 1. Development of Co-production in Europe ............................................. 40 2. Development of Co-production in East Asia and Japan .......................... 41 3. Trying to Define International Co-production........................................ 43 4. Works Recognized as Co-production in JapanThree Patterns and Recent Cases ............................................................ 43 5. Challenges in Co-producing with Japan.................................................. 45 J-Pitch: Support Program for International Co-production......................... 48 1. J-Pitch Activities .................................................................................... 48 2. Supported Films..................................................................................... 52 Film and Co-production Market in Japan...................................................... 54 1. TIFFCOM: Marketplace for Film & TV in Asia....................................... 54 2. Tokyo Project Gathering (TPG) Co-production Market.......................... 55 Other Support Schemes.................................................................................... 57 1. Support Program for the Production of Film and TV Programs on Japan............................................................................................................... 57 2. Subsidies for Culture and Arts Promotion Expenses—Support for Challenging Film Production........................................... 59 3. Support Program for the Participation at Film Festivals.......................... 62Chapter 3 Filming in Japan 1. The Establishment of Film Commissions................................................ 66 2. The Launch of Japan Film Commission (JFC)........................................ 67 3. Some Useful Tips —how to get the best support from film commissions ............................ 67 4. AFCNet (Asian Film Commissions Network) members.......................... 68Chapter 4 Information on Japanese Films Japanese Film Industry..................................................................................... 71 1. For the Statistics Refer to Motion Picture ProducersAssociation of Japan, Inc. (EIREN)......................................................... 71 2. For the Imported Films Refer to Foreign Film Importer-DistributorsAssociation of Japan (Gaihaikyo)............................................................ 71 3. For Research and Survey on Japanese Film Market Refer toKinema Junpo Film Institute.................................................................. 72 Japanese Film Database (JFDB)....................................................................... 73 Content of JFDB..................................................................................... 74 Japan Location Database (JLDB)..................................................................... 75 Some Useful Links ............................................................................................ 76¡About UNIJAPAN .............................................................................................. 78[ Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and other names from cultures where the family name appearsfirst are printed in romanized form in this booklet in accordance with those customs, withthe family name first and the given name second.
  3. 3. About this guide Foreword4 5This is the era where everybody creates.—Patti Smith “A Rock’n’ Roll Star”The era for films to be made by anyone, at anytime and anywhere has come.Anywhere? Even in Japan? Of course! In Japan every year more than 400films titles are made and released in cinemas. Departures, Tokyo Sonata,Achilles and the Tortoise are one of those Japanese films. However, we are often asked by overseas filmmakers how to produce afilm in Japan. “How can I get film-shooting permissions? Is there any publicsupport program for film co-production? Are there any co-productionagreements?” There are different filmmaking cultures around the globe. Japan hasits own culture and support programs for filmmaking which might differfrom the others, but they do exist. This guidebook is first and foremost made with an aim for you tounderstand the state of Japan’s film market. It provides the summary ofJapanese film industry and support programs. It may not cover all theinformation necessary for co-producing with Japanese companies but it issurely the first step for bringing closer Japan’s film community to you!UNIJAPAN J-Pitch Team About this guide As of year 2006, UNIJAPAN together with the Ministry of Economy, Tradeand Industry has been actively supporting the promotion of international co-productions between the Japanese and overseas producers. This guide is made with an aim to serve as an introduction tool for furtheringthe understanding of the work and condition of Japanese film market and theopportunities it provides for the international co-productions. The guide givesthe general information and guidelines considered necessary for the overseasfilmmakers interested in co-productions with Japan. This guide is produced by UNIJAPAN International Promotion Department,under the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. For any inquiries, please contact:UNIJAPAN International Promotion Department5F Tsukiji Yasuda Bldg., 2-15-14, TsukijiChuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045Tel: 81-3-5565-7511Fax: 81-3-5565-7531Email: Attention: This guide is produced under the supervision of UNIJAPAN. It or any parts ofinformation it provides may not be reproduced and/or published by printing,photocopying, microfilm or any other method without prior written permission ofUNIJAPAN.
  4. 4. Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development6 7Postwar Japanese Film Industry and DevelopmentBy Kakeo Yoshio, Executive Director, Kinema Junpo Film Institute1. Japanese Film after World War IIThe Japanese film industry after the defeat of Japan in World War II in1945 started under the control of the General Headquarters (GHQ).The industry was under the direct management of the Motion Pictureand Theatrical Unit of the Civil Information and Education Section inthe GHQ. Representatives of the film companies were assembled and anannouncement was made on September 22 that the underlying themes forfilms were to be “abolishment of militarism,” “promotion of liberalism”and “establishment of pacifism.” The number of Japanese films shown in the cinemas from the dayJapan was defeated in World War II,August 15, 1945, to the end of that yearwas 12 films, out of which the majority had been banned from screeningduring the war as they were considered to be pro-America.The first postwarJapanese film Soyokaze (1945; directed by: Sasaki Yasushi, starring: SanoShuji) was produced by Shochiku which became a great hit together withits main theme song Ringo no uta sung by Namiki Michiko. The cinemasat the time still showed signs of the war; the buildings were still half burntdown with steel beams showing their faces and obviously short of seats.Thefilm industry, however, became a booming market and people swarmed tothe cinemas as the population increased with the returnees from China andthe demobilized veterans, as well as from the relief that the war was over. The Japanese film industry revived rapidly as the prime entertainmentfor the Japanese people. In 1951, Rashomon directed by Kurosawa Akirawon the Golden Lion (Leone d’Oro) at the Venice International FilmFestival. Japanese films were at its height in the 1950s as they won a numberof awards at the international film festivals.Chapter 1Japan’sFilmIndustrytitle (year) film festival / award directorRashomon (’51) Venice Film Festival / Golden Lion KUROSAWA AkiraGate of Hell Cannes Film Festival / Palme d’Or KINUGASA Teinosuke(Jigokumon) (’54)Twenty-Four Eyes Golden Globes / KINOSHITA Keisuke(Nijushi no hitomi) (’54) Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign FilmMusashi Miyamoto Academy Awards / INAGAKI Hiroshi(Miyamoto Musashi) (’55) Best Foreign Language FilmThe Story of Pure Love Berlin Film Festival / Best Director Award IMAI Tadashi(Junai monogatari) (’58)Rickshaw Man Venice Film Festival / Golden Lion INAGAKI Hiroshi(Muhomatsu no issho) (’58)
  5. 5. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development8 92. Importing FilmsEven after the end of the war, Central Motion Picture Exchange (CMPE) ofthe GHQ monopolized the provision and screening of imported films. Allnew imported films shown in Japan for a year and a half after the war, untilthe end of 1946 wereAmerican films.Private companies were not permittedto import films.However,new films from the Soviet Union,UK,France andItaly were also screened starting in 1947 upon the strong request by thosecountries. Even so, the import of films by the Japanese nationals was stillnot allowed as only one importing company was permitted per country,under the condition that the president of the company was a national ofthat country. The first screened films by country were as follows:In 1951, the Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed in San Francisco, andJapan was to restore its sovereignty the following year,onApril 28,1952.Theorganization that monopolized the distribution of American films, CMPEwas dissolved at the end of 1952. American films were then imported bythe branch office of Hollywood just like before the war. Furthermore, theimport of films by the Japanese was now permitted. Towa Shoji Movie Department (Towa Eiga) founded by KawakitaNagamasa in 1928 was a leading company in the import of films toJapan before the war. Mr. Kawakita, however, was purged from all publicpositions and was banned to “take part in the production, import, etc. offilms or to make statements to the media.” This treatment was not limitedto Mr. Kawakita. Many film related professionals were purged from publicpositions as they were said to have promoted militarism. Mr. Kawakita wasable to return to his public position in 1950, and Felicie Nanteuil (directedby: Marc Allegret, starring: Micheline Presle) was screened on March 13,1951 by Towa Eiga. Around the same time, Nippon Cinema Corporation(NCC) run by a Japanese president was founded as a company to distributeworks by the British Film Institute (BFI), followed by many more filmimporting companies run by the Japanese. This is how the import of films came to be permitted. Yet, due tothe foreign exchange shortage and for the protection of the Japanese filmindustry, the import restriction was still placed by the Ministry of Financeand GHQ. This import restriction took the form of a “quota system,”according to which the number of films imported to Japan needed to beequal to the number of Japanese films screened in the cinemas. This systemwas applied to the share of American, British and French films presentin Japan’s film market at the time. The quota allowed to each importingcompany, was based on the average of the number of films it screened theprevious year and its distribution revenue. This “quota system” was then switched to a currency quota, whererestriction was placed on the purchasing price,while bonus quota was givento companies that imported excellent revenue-earning films. In addition,quota was traded among film importing companies as the film industrywas in a boom, where any and all films screened became a hit. However,criticism rose that this“quota system” protected the advantageous positionof American films that persisted from the Occupation. As a result, theMinistry of Finance drastically changed the “quota system” in response tothe criticism by the opposition party at the regular Diet session in 1958.The criticisms were aimed at the deterioration of actual import quota bythe distributor, thus the Foreign Film Distributors Association of Japan (in1959,renamedtoForeignFilmImporter-DistributorsAssociationof Japan)was established in 1958 as part of a course-changing measure. After 1960,the import of films was decided to be liberalized under the condition thatthe foreign exchange rate showed an upturn and that it would not oppressthe Japanese film industry even when the import quota was abolished.3. 1950s Mark the Peak of the Japanese Film IndustryThe Japanese film industry reached its peak in the 1950s. Five companies—Shochiku, Toho, Daiei, Toei and Nikkatsu—screened two films per weekfor 50 weeks a year. Furthermore, Shin Toho established as a result of theToho union dispute in 1947 also actively produced and distributed films.The annual production of Japanese films exceeded 500 works, and allstudios were enjoying brisk business, while the films produced during thistime were also of very high quality. The works by Director Kurosawa Akiraof Toho and Director Ozu Yasujiro of Shochiku dominated the most ranksof the Kinema Junpo[Top Ten and also ranked high in terms of the box-office revenue.With TV yet to come out to the market and the undevelopedamusement facilities in the 1950s, film was the prime entertainment for thepeople, thus any and all films became a hit once it was screened. In the second half of the 1950s, the number of audience and cinemasin Japan reached its peak.[ First issued in 1919, Kinema Junpo is a publication which issues the most recent dataof film releases in Japan and represents one of the oldest publication of its company title [date]Soviet Union Soviet Union Film Exporters Association Anton Iwanowitsch is Terribly Furious [September 30, 1947]UK British Film Institute (BFI) The Seventh Veil [December 2, 1947]France French Film Export Union (SEF) Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete) [January 27, 1948]Italy Italia Film Paisan (Paisà) [September 6, 1949]
  6. 6. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development10 11Number of audience ¡1957 1.0989 billion people ¡1958 1.1275 billion people ¡1959 1.0881 billion people ¡1960 1.0144 billion peopleNumber of cinemas ¡1958 7,067 facilities ¡1959 7,400 facilities ¡1960 7,457 facilities ¡1961 7,231 facilitiesFrom 1957 to 1960, the annual number of audience in Japan exceeded 1billion people. It was still at a time when the Japanese population was lessthan 100 million people, indicating that a person went to the cinemas morethan ten times a year. Furthermore, between 1958 and 1961, the numberof cinemas exceeded 7,000 facilities. There were two or three cinemas evenin a small town.4. From 1960s Onwards—Japanese Film Industry in declineWith the Tokyo Olympic coming up in 1964, TV was rapidly makingits way to Japanese households. In contrast to the rise of TV, the filmindustry was starting to mark a decline. The number of audience whichexceeded 1 billion people in 1960 plunged to 254.8 million people in 1970,approximately 25% of that in 1960. Furthermore, there were 7,231 cinemasin 1961,but the number dropped to 3,246 facilities in 1970.This downwardtrend continued up until the mid-1990s. As for the number of cinemas,1993 marked the worst in history at 1,734 facilities. Ironically, 1993 wasalso the year the first multiplex in Japan, Warner Mycal Ebina was opened.As for the number of audience, 1996 marked the worst in history at 119.6million people.5. Boom of Artistic Films and Mini-Theaters (Independent Art House Cinemas) 1) Establishment of Art Theater Guild (ATG)The establishment of the Art Theater Guild, also known as ATG, inNovember 1961 played a major role for Japanese artistic films. Proposed byMs. Kawakita Kashiko of Towa Eiga, supported by Mr. Mori Iwao of Tohoand with capital investment amounting to more than half of the total byToho,ATG was established to screen highly artistic and low profit films thatare usually cold-shouldered by commercial cinemas. The first film ATG screened on April 20, 1962 was the Polish filmMother Joanna of the Angels directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz which ranked6th place in Kinema Junpo Top Ten (imported films). The following listconsists some of the films by ATG. They were screened at Nichigeki Bunkawhich used to be in the underground floor of Nichigeki Theater andShinjuku Bunka in Shinjuku.Imported Films:Wild Strawberries (Smuktron-Stallet) 1962 Ingmar Bergman 1st[The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet) 1963 Ingmar Bergman 6th[Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) 1963 Francois Truffaut 9th[The Long Absence (Une aussi longue absence) 1964 Henri Colpi 1st[Last Year at Marienbad (L’Anné dernière á Marienbad) 1964 Alain Resnais 3rd[[ rank for Kinema Junpo Top Ten (imported films)Works screened by ATG continued to rank in the Kinema Junpo Top Ten.ATG also played a key role for Japanese films as well.A Man Vanishes (Ningen johatsu) 1967 Imamura Shohei 2nd[Manual of Ninja Martial Arts (Ninja bugei-cho) 1967 Oshima Nagisa 10th[The Human Bullet: Human Guinea Pigs (Nikudan) 1968 Okamoto Kihachi 2nd[Death by Hanging (Koshikei) 1968 Oshima Nagisa 3rd[Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (Hatsukoi: Jigoku-hen) 1968 Hani Susumu 6th[Double Suicide (Shinju ten no Amijima) 1969 Shinoda Masahiro 1st[Boy (Shonen) 1969 Oshima Nagisa 3rd[[ rank for Kinema Junpo Top Ten (Japanese films) 2) Age of Mini-TheatersIn 1978, Conversation Piece (Gruppo di Famiglia in un Interno) (directedby: Luchino Visconti, distributed by: Toho-Towa = Shibata Organization)was screened at Iwanami Hall, and recorded a long-running hit. Thefollowing year, in 1979, The Travelling Players (O Thiassos) (directedby: Theo Angelopoulos, distributed by: Shibata Organization) was alsoscreened at Iwanami Hall and again marked a long-running hit. These two
  7. 7. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development12 13consecutive years of artistic films winning the first place in the KinemaJunpo Top Ten and the long-running hits at mini-theaters proved thepotential of artistic films bringing commercial successes. In 1981, CinemaSquare Tokyu with its screening films selected by Herald Ace was openedin Shinjuku. Ever since, a number of mini-theaters including Cinema Rise,Eurospace, Cine Vivant Roppongi, Chanter Cine, Cine Saison Shibuya,Cine Switch Ginza, Ebisu Garden Cinema, Bunkamura Le Cinema andCine Amuse were opened in the 1980s. This boom of independent cinemas simultaneously led to theestablishment of many small-scale film importing and distributioncompanies. Traditionally, distribution is a very competitive business,and difficult for small-scale distribution companies to enter. However,distribution by small-scale companies to mini-theaters were made possibleas screening at these cinemas did not require big sum of money includingthe purchasing price and advertisement cost. In the 1990s, the numberof screens at mini-theaters in Tokyo surpassed 40 and the number ofdistributors became over 100. In the first half of the 1980s, artistic films enjoyed commercialsuccesses as there were not many distribution companies geared towardthe mini-theaters, thus the purchasing price was kept low, and the numberof artistic films actually being screened was small. However, once hittingthe 1990s, the number of distribution companies multiplied and thepurchasing prices increased due to competition, resulting in chasing eachother out of business.6. Video Rental Stores and V-CinemaIn the mid-1980s, video rental started to become widely available. In 1986,the major video rental company Tsutaya was established. The number ofvideo rental stores including individually owned stores was said to total10,000 stores across the country. This rise of video rental stores supportedthe business of the distribution companies geared toward the mini-theatersnoted above, since the artistic films that were unsuccessful at the cinemasbecame available for rental at the video rental stores.When the video rentalbusiness started, major film companies considered video rental businessas a threat to their box-office revenue and were not too cooperative to thebusiness, thus the video rental stores had a lot of shelf space for the artisticfilms. This shortage of films at video rental stores led to the development ofa new genre of Japanese film—V-cinema. V-cinema works are those thatare not screened at cinemas, but instead are directly released on video atvideo rental stores. Just like the mini-theaters leading to the establishmentof small-scale film importing companies, this boom of the V-cinema ledto the development of video companies and small-scale film productioncompanies specializing in V-cinema works. New talents including DirectorMiike Takashi were discovered from this circle. However, in the second halfof the 1990s V-cinema slowed down, and the trend shifted to Japanese filmproduction and distribution companies for screening at mini-theaters.7. Multiplex CinemasAs noted above, the first multiplex in Japan was Warner Mycal in Ebina,Kanagawa Prefecture in 1993. Ever since, multiplex market in Japan wasled by foreign affiliated companies such as AMC, UCI and Virgin Cinema.In recent years, AMC and UCI merged which was then bought over bySumitomo Corporation, and is now United Cinema (UC). Virgin Cinemawas bought over by Toho and currently, Warner Mycal is the sole survivorof the above mentioned companies. Furthermore, film companies entered the multiplex market, as seen inShochiku working with SMT, Toei with T-Joy and Kadokawa Pictures withKadokawa Plex. As for promotion companies, Tokyu Recreation and othercompanies are actively developing their business. It may be possible thatthe foreign affiliated companies initially led the rising multiplex market inJapan because Japanese film companies lacked confidence in the Japanesemarket. As can be seen from 1996 marking the worst number of audiencein history, box-office revenue in Japan was facing its most difficult timefor the first time since the end of the war just around the time multiplexeswere first developed. It was thought that Japan would not be able to followthe example of the United States as land rent, tenant fee and personnel costwere high in Japan. However, once multiplexes owned by foreign affiliated companiesshowed a certain level of success, the Japanese film companies startedtaking a more active approach. The number of multiplexes multipliedas we entered the 21st century, reaching 3,360 facilities as of the end of2008, accounting to 80% of all screens nationwide. This rapid emergenceof multiplexes triggered a drastic change in the film distribution structurein Japan. In other words, efficient business management was made possibleby allocating many screens to popular films, while decreasing the showingsof unpopular films. As a result, successful works drew in even moreaudience, while unsuccessful films lost the chance to draw in its audience.This strategy drew a big, fat line between the winners and the losers, andfurther enlarged the gap.
  8. 8. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development14 15Total number of screens8. Increasing Number of Screens and Plateauing Number of AudienceAs mentioned above, multiplex market showed a stunning development,which gave a big boost to the number of audience from the worst year in1996 with less than 120 million people to around 160 million. Japanesecinemas were suffering a long period of decline. People had the impressionthat the cinemas were unhygienic and the chairs were uncomfortable, butmultiplexes completely changed this image. Multiplexes drew back in theelderly movie fans that went to the cinemas in the 1950s and 1960s, makingmovies a more casual, everyday entertainment. However, the number of audience has leveled out around 160 millionpeople for the past decade after it peaked at 170 million in 2004.In contrast,the number of screens has increased from 1,993 screens in 1998 to 3,360,marking approximately an increase of 1,370 screens. This means that thebox-office revenue per screen has dropped significantly. Nowadays, only aset group of movie fans actually watch movies at cinemas, and is thoughtthat the pattern today is for the same people to watch several movies atcinemas in a year. However, the current annual number of audience is toosmall for the number of screens which continued to increase over the pastyears. In case this situation persists, the movie business in Japan may face afateful crisis. The cinemas are providing various services such as “senior discount”targeting those aged over 60, “couple 50 discount” targeting coupleswhere either one of the couple is aged over 50. These services have proveneffective to a certain level, but have not triggered a big financial spark inthe business. The discounts are effective in encouraging people to comewatch movies at the cinemas again, but have not led to gaining a new batchof movie-goers. In particular, the tendency of the younger generationsnot going to cinemas have been pointed out, and to make these youngergenerations get in the habit of watching movies at the cinemas has becomean important agenda. This issue cannot be solved by the cinemas alone. It isan act of protecting the Japanese film culture, thus is an issue that the entirefilm industry, municipalities and education related ministries and agenciesmust tackle together.9. TV Networks Entering the Film IndustryIn 1998,Bayside Shakedown (Odoru daisosasen:THE MOVIE) produced byFuji Television Network recorded a distribution revenue of ¥5.3 billion andwas a big hit with the highest box-office revenue of the year. TV networkshave long been producing theatrical films, with its first work being SteelEdge of Revenge (Goyokin) by Fuji Television Network in 1969. Since then,TV networks have been producing many theatrical films such as Antarctica(Nankyoku monogatari) (1983). The film industry was in control and filmswere produced mainly by the film related people.However,the involvementof TV networks drastically changed before and after Bayside Shakedown. Because Bayside Shakedown was a film adaptation of the TV dramaseries, it was produced mainly by the TV network. Ever since, many filmshave been produced by the TV networks. Yet these works did not holdmuch significance in the film industry. Then in 2002, the market shareof Japanese films took a nosedive to its worst level at 27%. Since 2003,however, the market share of Japanese films gradually recovered, obtaining33% in 2003, 37.5% in 2004, 41.3% in 2005 and 53.2% in 2006. In 2006,the market share of Japanese films exceeded that of the imported films forthe first time in 21 years. One of the big factors for this recovery was noneother than those films the TV networks were involved in. It is said that TVnetworks greatly contributed to the recovery of the Japanese flm industrywith their keen eyes for spotting what the audience is craving for and theeffective use and influence of information distributed on their broadcastingnetworks. Nowadays, the involvement of the TV networks has become anessential factor to whether a film will become a hit or not. Yet this movehas not led to an increase in the overall number of audience. It was justthat the imported movie-goers simply switched over to Japanese films. Theinvolvement of the TV networks has become a critical factor when newproposals are brought in to the film companies.As such, excessive influenceof the TV networks has become an obstacle to the healthy environment forfair evaluation of the content of the proposal itself.year total no. of screens no. of multiplexes percentage1997 1,884 157 8.31998 1,993 267 13.41999 2,221 760 34.22000 2,524 1,123 44.52001 2,585 1,259 48.72002 2,635 1,396 53.02003 2,681 1,533 57.22004 2,825 1,766 62.52005 2,926 1,954 66.82006 3,062 2,230 72.82007 3,221 2,454 76.22008 3,359 2,659 79.2
  9. 9. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Postwar Japanese Film Industry and Development16 1710. IT Companies Entering the Film IndustryThe spread of the internet and mobile phones has led to the newdevelopment and advancement of the IT companies. Film is now seen asvaluable content materials for online video streaming. The matured ITcompanies have now entered the film industry, and as its result, many filmshave been imported and Japanese films produced. The number of filmsscreened in a year which was 550 films in 1998 skyrocketed to over 800films in 2006 and 2007. However, as seen in the increase of the number ofscreens, the number of audience did not increase. Furthermore, the marketshare of the major film companies did not change despite the increasein the number of screened films. In other words, companies that newlyentered the market could not win any market share upon distribution andscreening of their films. In 2008, companies that newly entered the marketstarted to downsize or shutdown their film business.11. The Japanese Film Bubble —shift from imported films to Japanese filmsWinning 53% of the market share in 2006,Japanese films recorded a drasticrecovery after its worst level of 27% in 2002. However despite this recoveryin the market share, the number of audience did not show much increaseduring this period, meaning that the imported film fans just switched overto Japanese films. In the past, imported film fans and Japanese film fanswere clearly divided, mainly because the cinemas for the imported filmsand the Japanese films were separate. With the rise of multiplexes,imported films and Japanese films startedto be screened in the same building, making the two easily available to theaudience. Furthermore, films produced by the TV networks were favoredby the younger viewers. Works mainly produced by the TV networks suchas Sea Monkey (Umizaru), Sky of Love (Koizora), Train Man (Denshaotoko) and BOYS OVER FLOWERS the movie (Hana yori dango final)drew in large audience. Long-running hit imported movies were limitedto blockbuster films such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the HarryPotter series and the Spider-Man series, and even Hollywood films aresuffering badly, especially those medium and low budget works. As such, the booming Japanese films have given great damageto imported films. In particular, Japanese importing and distributioncompanies have been affected significantly. Major film importing anddistribution companies have left the business, and some of them have beenin a critical situation as imported films for mini-theaters cannot draw in theyounger audience. Companies have been cutting down on film purchasingsince few years back, but have finally run out of stocks. Therefore, thenumber of imported films screened in 2008 finally undermined that of theprevious year by 40 films. Film importing and distribution companies that were in a slumpstarted the production and distribution of Japanese films as they werewell accepted by the younger audience. As other industries also enteredthe film industry around the same time, the production of Japanese filmsmultiplied at a magnificent rate, thus called the “bubble of the Japanesefilm.” The number of Japanese films screened was only 287 works in 2003,but increased to 417 works in 2006. However, the Japanese films that werenewly brought out on the market could hardly win any market share.Small-scale film importing and distribution companies as well as Japanesefilm production companies and distribution companies came to face afateful crisis. Furthermore, the Japan branch offices of Hollywood started to engagein local production and the production of Japanese films, as mediumand low budget Hollywood films were suffering badly. In 2006, WarnerEntertainment Japan recorded the box-office revenue of over ¥10 billionwith three films: Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name and Brave Story.However, Accuracy of Death (Sweet Rain: Shinigami no seido), Sushi Prince!(Sushi oji!), Ichi and 252: Signal of Life (252: Seizonsha ari) distributed in2007 did not reach the expected revenue amount. In 2009, Sony PicturesDigital and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation will follow theexample of Warner and enter the local production market. The film industry today, especially the small-scale film importing anddistribution companies, and Japanese film production companies are inhot seats, while the sluggish secondary-use and video rental markets aregiving them an additional blow. In the past, low box-office revenue washelped by the video rental, but nowadays polarization of hit films andunsuccessful films have further advanced even in the video rental industry.The works that suffered with box-office revenue are not out for rental atvideo rental stores and, upon TV broadcast, the independent leaning worksare either negotiated for discount or simply not aired.
  10. 10. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Overview of the Japanese Box-office for Year 200818 19Overview of the Japanese Box-office for Year 2008By Kakeo Yoshio, Executive Director, Kinema Junpo Film Institute1. Japanese Films Exceed Imported Films 1) AttendanceAlthough the Japanese film industry appears to be stable over the pastdecade, with both attendance and box-office receipts hovering with onlyslight ups or downs, it is actually entering difficult times as it can be seen inthe continuing decline of attendance per-screen. In 2008, film attendance fell by 2.7 million in 2008, from 163.19million in 2007 to 160.49 million, or a slight drop to 98.34%. Box-officereceipts also marked a similar small drop to 98.18%, falling by ¥3.607billion from ¥198.443 billion to ¥194.836 billion. Meanwhile,the number of screens increased by 138 from 3,221 in 2007to 3,359 in 2008. Multiplex cinemas increased to 2,659 screens, accountingfor 79% of the total number of screens, up from 76% in 2007. Per-screen audience declined by 2,886 from 50,665 in 2007 to 47,779(94.30%),since attendance dropped while the number of screens increased.Likewise, per-screen box-office takings fell ¥3,604,961 from ¥61,609,128 in2007 to ¥58,004,167 in 2008 (94.14%). 2) Films releasedIn 2008, 418 Japanese films and 388 imported films were released totaling806 films. This was a four-film-drop from 810 in 2007, among which 407were Japanese and 403 were imported films. These numbers show also thatin 2008 box-office receipts of Japanese films exceeded those of importedfilms by a large margin. While in 2006, the share of Japanese films overtook that of importedfilms for the first time in 21 years, the margin was still small at 53% forJapanese films. In 2007, imported films recovered their share, albeit bya small margin, at 52%. In 2008, however, Japanese films overwhelmedimported films with a share of 59.46%. Although this was a welcome development for the Japanese filmindustry, a small decline in overall audience numbers showed that a largenumber of the audience for imported films simply shifted to Japanesefilms. In other words, it justified that the future market will not expandunless both Japanese film and imported film attendance increases.2. Further Polarization between Majors and Independents 1) Box-office drawsIn 2006 when the share of Japanese films first overtook imported films,three films produced locally by Warner Entertainment Japan earned morethan ¥10 billion in combined box-office takings. Likewise, both Asmik AceEntertainment and Cine Qua Non had three titles with box-office takingsof over ¥1 billion. In 2008, however, there were only two films with box-office takingsof more than ¥1 billion released by non-big three makers—L changethe WorLd by Warner (¥3.1 billion) and Climber’s High by Toei=GagaCommunications (¥1.18 billion). The situation was the same for imported films, with the gapwidening between major producers and independents. Financially weakindependents find themselves in far more difficult conditions than majorproducers in terms of both planning and development costs and selectionof plans. In other words,most big box-office draws came from major producers,with independents becoming less likely to come up with blockbuster hits. Several intertwined factors are behind this development:(1) Multiplex cinemas, which now account for 80% of the totalnumber of screens, are biased toward showing big-hit films;(2) The dwindling secondary-use market makes it difficult to recoverproduction costs of Japanese films and purchase costs of importedfilms, pushing financially fragile independents into dire straits;(3) Tastes of audiences are changing: While older movie-goers enjoydiversified film cultures, younger film fans tend to favor large-budget Japanese films; and(4) Planning abilities of independents are waning. 2) Major producers show growthMajor producers joined hands with TV networks to take advantage oftheir strong information-transmitting capabilities to boost the visibilityof films they make and thus put on the market such blockbuster hits asBOYS OVER FLOWERS the movie (Hana yori dango final) (¥7.75 billion/TBS), Suspect X (Yogisha X no kenshin) (¥4.92 billion/Fuji Television) andPartners: The Movie (Aibo —gekijoban—) (¥4.44 billion, TV Asahi). Atthe same time, they broadened their scope to take up more serious themes,including Departures (Okuribito) (¥3 billion/TBS), I’d Rather Be a Shellfish(Watashi wa kai ni naritai) (2009/TBS) and Nobody to Watch over Me (Daremo mamotte kurenai) (2008/Fuji Television). Another noteworthy development was the box-office draw of Detroit
  11. 11. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Overview of the Japanese Box-office for Year 200820 21Metal City (¥2.34 billion), planned and produced by Toho without a tie-upwith TV networks. 3) UIP Japan foldsAmong film industry news, United International Pictures (UIP) Japanfolded in 2007 and Paramount Pictures Japan was launched in January2008. But this did not come as a big shock because Universal, the otherpartner in UIP, had already become independent in 2007 and startedbusiness by making a distribution arrangement with Toho-Towa. Much bigger news was the purchase by Universal from majoradvertising agency Dentsu of a majority stake in Geneon Entertainment(former Pioneer LDC), which Dentsu had taken under its aegis. In addition, the releases of 3D movies such as Beowulf and Journey toCenter of the Earth gave an anticipation of the advent of the era of 3D filmsat any moment. The film industry has high expectations on 3D films as aprimer for drawing audiences to cinemas, hoping for an acceleration oftheir spread.2008 Distribution per company (Japanese Films, Imported Films)3. Box-office of Japanese Films 1) Substantial increaseIn 2008, Japanese films chalked up box-office takings of ¥115.859 billion,surpassing the 2007 takings of ¥94.645 billion by a large margin of ¥21.215billion.Thenumberof filmsreleasedin2008cameto418,slightlyup11from407 in 2007. There were a total of 28 films that earned more than ¥1 billionwith Toho providing 21 of them, demonstrating its overwhelmingdistribution power. Box-office takings of ¥15.55 billion achieved by Ponyoon the Cliff by the Sea (Gake no ue no Ponyo),an animation film by DirectorMiyazaki Hayao were within the expectations, but still impressive. Also,box-office takings of ¥7.75 billion for BOYS OVER FLOWERS the movieand ¥4.92 billion for Suspect X were far larger than expected. 2) Major hitsAmong films locally produced by Warner, which drew a great deal ofattention in 2006, L change the WorLd was a big success with box-officetakings of ¥3.1 billion, but Accuracy of Death (Sweet Rain Shinigami noseido) (¥503 million), ICHI (¥445 million) and Sushi Prince Goes to N.Y.(Ginmakuban Sushi oji! New York e iku) (¥365 million) turned in poorperformances. Partners: The Movie (¥4.44 billion) was a film adaptation of thepopular TV drama broadcasted by TV Asahi and was well expected tobecome a hit, but it marked not so much success. Shochiku’s Departures (¥3 billion), which won Kinema Junpo’s BestOne award and Best Director award (Takita Yojiro) as well as the AcademyAward for Best Foreign Language Film, is also a film that deserves highrecognition. Addressing the themes of human death and the relationshipbetween the deceased and bereaved families, a story about how a youngcouple become closer with strong bonds through the profession ofencoffineers and cast aside disdain for the vocation of preparing deceasedbodies for funeral services depicts the universal drama of human life anddeep personal characterization of the central character in a well-balancedmanner, which led to wide acceptance overseas. The fact that a TV networkparticipated in the planning of such a serious theme is of no smallsignificance, and it is expected that the success of this film would help leadto more ambitious film ideas. 3) Independent productions waneDiversely from major productions, the films produced by independents areput in a poor commercial performance. The combined box-office takings for the three major producers ofToho, Shochiku and Toei came to some ¥97.29 billion accounting 83.9%of total for Japanese films. The number of films distributed by the threecompanies was 74, just 17.7% of the total number of 418 Japanese filmsreleased. This means that the remaining 344 films (82.3% of the total) sharedbox-office takings of ¥18.569 billion (16% of the total).company box office per year [share] no. of film releases [share]Toho ¥73.9 billion [37.9%] 29 [3.6%]Warner Brothers ¥16.4 billion [8.4%] 19 [2.4%]Shochiku ¥16.1 billion [8.3%] 20 [2.5%]Toho-Towa ¥14.1 billion [7.2%] 14 [1.7%]Toei ¥11.9 billion [6.1%] 19 [2.4%]Walt Disney ¥10.8 billion [5.6%] 6 [0.7%]Paramount Pictures ¥8.2 billion [4.2%] 6 [0.7%]20th Century Fox ¥7.9 billion [4.1%] 16 [2.0%]Gaga Communications ¥7.8 billion [4.0%] 16 [2.0%]Sony Pictures ¥6.8 billion [3.5%] 18 [2.2%]Asmik Ace ¥6.0 billion [3.1%] 10 [1.3%]Kadokawa Pictures ¥3.6 billion [1.8%] 18 [2.2%]Others ¥11.3 billion [5.8%] 615 [76.3%]total ¥194.8 billion [100%] 806 [100%]Source: Kinema Junpo Film Institute
  12. 12. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Overview of the Japanese Box-office for Year 200822 23 4) Releases increaseWhile the number of imported film releases in 2008 declined, the numberof Japanese film releases increased. The number of imported film releasesas a downtrend began in 2003. The inventory of imported films purchasedearlier kept the releases of imported films from declining sharply before2008. Meanwhile, the releases of Japanese films increased in 2008 as a resultof new entrants to the film industry from other sectors and those whoshifted from the importation/distribution of imported films to productionof Japanese films kept on making films until around the middle of 2007.When Japanese films produced by new entrants proved to be unsuccessful,itwas not until the summer of 2008 that they began curbing new filmmaking.The films already under production were completed and released, pushingup the total number of new releases in 2008. The number of releases ofJapanese films is expected to start falling around the latter half of 2009. 5) Hit indiesAmong independent films released in 2008, The Handsome Suit (¥860million) and Best Wishes for Tomorrow (Ashita e no yuigon) (¥600 million)by Asmik Ace Entertainment fared well. The Witch of the West Is Dead(Nishi no majo ga shinda) (¥450 million) and Gu Gu, the Cat (Gu Gu datteneko de aru) (¥360 million) showed a relatively strong showing as well. Also noticeable was After School (¥550 million) by The Klockworx,which showed its presence felt again following Evangelion:1.0 You Are (Not)Alone (Evangelion shin gekijoban: jo) (¥2 billion), a blockbuster hit in2007. Kadokawa Pictures had only one film with box-office takings of ¥300million or more, Sergeant Keroro The Super Duper Movie 3—Keroro vsKeroro The Battle of the Sky—(Cho gekijoban Keroro gunso 3: Keroro vs.Keroro Tenku daikessen de arimasu!). Expectations are high for inspiringactivity by Kadokawa, a company with a long history of filmmaking.4. Box-office of Imported Films 1) Sharp dropIn 2008, box-office of imported films fell sharply by ¥24.821 billion from¥103.798 billion in 2007 to ¥78.977 billion (or 76.08%). The number ofimported films released also fell 15 from 403 in 2007 to 388. Per-film box-office fell sharply to ¥203.54 million from ¥257.56 in 2007. While films with box-office of over ¥1 billion numbered 25, only threeless than the corresponding number of Japanese films, there were no realblockbuster hits. The top performer among imported films in 2008 was Indiana Jonesand the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with box-office takings of ¥5.71billion. 2) AudiencesThe poor performance of imported films stemmed mainly from thedecline in imported film attendance among younger generations.Serializedmovies like Indiana Jones may encourage generations who have seen oldfilms to view new ones as well, but are unlikely to win the favor of youngergenerations. Furthermore, imported films that proved to be blockbuster hits inthe rest of the world failed to draw such large audiences in Japan. Suchfilms as Wanted (¥2.5 billion), Kung Fu Panda (¥2 billion) and The DarkKnight (¥1.6 billion) drew over four million movie-goers in South Korea,which has cultural similarities. In Japan, however, these titles were hits withbox-office takings of around ¥5 billion. Even Hollywood movies, middle-budget or smaller films were generally shown at so-called B Road theaters(second-tier chains) just like throwaway matches. Among them, Red Cliff Part 1 (¥5.05 billion) stood out. Many industrypeople anticipated a certain measure of success of this film, but neverexpected a performance of this magnitude. In particular, not a few peoplevoiced worries over Avex Marketing, which took an equity stake in the jointproduction project with China, an endeavor with very few successful casesbefore. It is hoped that the success of this film will help accelerate the trendtoward international joint production activity. For Toho-Towa, whichdistributed Red Cliff Part 1, it represented a real breakthrough not seen fora long time even including Universal films. 3) Stellar showingAnother independent large-budget film, The Golden Compass turned in astellar showing with box-office takings of ¥3.75 billion, but the number wasnot necessarily satisfactory. Purchasing big-budget films like this would putindependent distributors at big risk, despite large profits expected if theyprove to be major hits. However, Gaga Communications turned a documentary film EarthPlanet (¥2.4 billion) into a blockbuster, and also saved its face as a majorfilm importer/distributor with Sex and the City ¥1.7 billion, John Rambo(¥1 billion) and 3D film Journey to the Center of the Earth (¥850 million). Among middle-budget films released by independents, My BlueberryNights directed byWong Kar-Wai and released byAsmikAce Entertainmentwasoneof strongperformerswithbox-officetakingsof ¥550million.AsmikAce Entertainment was able to chalk up this number by releasing a WongKar-Wai film, normally released at single cinemas with the focus on artisticfeatures, through middle-size cinema chains. But a simple expansion of the
  13. 13. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Major Distributors24 25cinema release will not ensure success for every Wong Kar-Wai film. In thecase of My Blueberry Nights, its promotion as a not-too-artistic love storyfeaturing Norah Jones and Jude Law worked well. Box-office takings for such films as Nim’s Island (¥462 million) byKadokawa Pictures,Next (¥450 million) by Gaga Communications and TheFixer (¥400 million) by Movie-Eye Entertainment provided evidence thatthe imported film business has become difficult in Japan given purchaseand P&A costs. 4) Mini-theater releasesImported films shown mainly at mini-theaters are finding themselves inan even more difficult situation. In particular, the poor performance ofsecondary use has made this business hard to sustain. The Oscar-winningNo Country for Old Men (Paramount=Showgate, ¥340 million) andDirector Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (Wise Policy), winner of the Golden Lionaward at the Venice International Film Festival, failed to reach ¥500 millionin box-office takings despite being the subject of pre-release buzz. With the form of single-cinema long-running showing gone, mostof mini-theater films cease to be shown after about four weeks followingthe releases at cinemas with around three screens. As a result, importers/distributors began to withhold the purchases of single-cinema artisticfilms, even foreshadowing an era when such cinemas will face a shortage offilms to show.Major Distributors¢ Toho Co., Ltd.In 2008, Toho raked in annual box-office takings of ¥73,914.59 million,setting a new record far exceeding ¥59,510.67 million in 2007. The amountaccounted for as much as 63.79% of the total box-office takings of ¥115.859billion for Japanese films as a whole. Combining this with box-officetakings of ¥14,118.85 million (including Universal films) for its subsidiary,Toho-Towa, the total comes to ¥88,033.44 million, taking up 45.18% of theaggregate box-office takings of ¥194.836 billion for Japanese and importedfilms combined. Naturally, Toho retained the top slot in the film industry in terms ofbox-office takings in 2008.Among the total of 29 films released by Toho, 11films had box-office takings of at least ¥2 billion and another ten films madeat least ¥1 billion, with such titles as Smile—Holy Night of Miracles (Smile:Seiya no kiseki), Gachi Boy, My Darling of the Mountains—Tokuichi in Love(Yama no anata Tokuichi no koi), and The Homeless Student (Homelesschugakusei) failing to make the rankings of ¥300 million or more. title box officeJapanese film 1 Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea ¥15.00 billion 2 BOYS OVER FLOWERS the movie ¥7.70 billion 3 Suspect X ¥4.90 billion 4 Pokémon GIRATINA & THE SKY WARRIOR ¥4.80 billion 5 The Magic Hour ¥3.90 billion 6 20th Century Boys—Chapter 1— ¥3.90 billion 7 Doraemon Nobita to midori no kyojinden ¥3.37 billion 8 A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies ¥3.10 billion 9 Detective Conan: Full Score of Fear ¥2.42 billion 10 PACO and the Magical Book ¥2.36 billion 11 Detroit Metal City ¥2.34 billion 12 FLOWERS IN THE SHADOWS ¥1.95 billion 13 The Black Swindler ¥1.72 billion 14 The Glorious Team Batista ¥1.56 billion 15 Shaolin Girl ¥1.51 billion 16 Happy Flight ¥1.33 billion 17 Crayon Shin-chan: Cho arashi o yobu kinpoko no yushya ¥1.23 billion 18 Naruto the Movie: Shippuden kizuna ¥1.16 billion 19 Sanjuro ¥1.15 billion 20 Season of Snow ¥1.04 billion 21 Sand Chronicles ¥1.00 billion 22 HIDDEN FORTRESS: The Last Princess ¥0.93 billion
  14. 14. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Major Distributors26 27¢ Shochiku Co., Ltd.In 2008, Shochiku released 16 Japanese films and four imported films(including jointly distributed films) for a total of 20 films, earning¥16,015.18 million all together. The box-office takings exceeded the¥15,670.92 million of 2007 by a small margin of 2.2%. There were justtwo films that earned more than ¥1 billion, 10 Promises to My Dog (Inu towatashi no 10 no yakusoku) (¥1.52 billion) and Kitaro and the MillenniumCurse (Gegege no Kitaro sennen noroiuta) (¥2.34 billion). One of imported films it distributed, The Golden Compass, chalkedup ¥3.75 billion. Without the hit of this movie, Shochiku could have gonebelow the 2007 box-office takings. Yet, this was not necessarily satisfactoryfor the company, as it had aimed for results closer to the The Lord of theRings series, a blockbuster hit with takings in excess of ¥10 billion. Shochiku tried to scale down the number of new releases from 2007because their operational efficiency would improve if major hits emergedfrom a smaller number of quality films. Though waste was probably cutback, no blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings emerged. Nevertheless,Departures,released in the latter half of the year,raked inmore than ¥3 billion, and the film remained popular even after the turn ofthe year following its nomination for the Academy Award for Best ForeignLanguage Film. Into 2009, the film swept Japanese film awards, includingthe Kinema Junpo Best One and the Japan Academy Award for Best Picture.In the United States it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign LanguageFilm. Following the sweep of these awards, the showing of Departures wasexpanded to close to 200 screens, with its total box-office takings of ¥5billion which ultimately surpassed Shochiku’s previous all-time high of¥4.11 billion for Love and Honor (Bushi no ichibun) . Furthermore, RedThread (Akai ito), jointly produced with Fuji Television, turned in anexcellent performance with over ¥1 billion.¢ Toei Co., Ltd.In 2008, Toei distributed a total of 19 films—11 films through block-bookings and eight films through Toei and other free bookings, earningbox-office takings of ¥11,975.61 million, a sharp increase of 40.5% over¥8,524.44 million in 2007. The largest contributor by far was Partners: TheMovie, which raked in ¥4.44 billion. The only other film that went over ¥1billion in box-office takings was Climber’s High (¥1.18 billion). Althoughsuch regularly popular films as The Masked Rider (Kamen Rider) seriessteadily performed as expected, the performance of Where the Legend Lives(Maboroshi no Yamataikoku) and Chacha: Tengai no onnna were subduedwith ¥950 million and ¥330 million, respectively. 23 Bleach the Movie the Diamond Dust Rebellion Another Hyorinmaru ¥0.80 billion 24 IKIGAMI:The Ultimate Limit ¥0.80 billion 25 Tamagocchi: Happiest Story in the Universe! ¥0.78 billion 26 The Homeless Student ¥0.68 billion Others Smile Wrestling with a Memory My Darling of the Mountains—Tokuichi in Love— less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥73.90 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute title box officeJapanese film 1 Departures ¥3.00 billion 2 Our Mother ¥2.10 billion 3 10 Promises to My Dog ¥1.50 billion 4 Kitaro and the Millennium Curse ¥1.40 billion 5 Great Decisive Battle! The Super 8 Ultra Brothers ¥0.83 billion 6 Midnight Eagle ¥0.77 billion 7 Free & Easy 19 ¥0.34 billion 8 The Taste of Fish ¥0.33 billion Others Togitatsu no utare: Noda Version Kekkon shiyo yo FURU AMERICA NI SODE WA NURASAJI Panda Diary CHEER CHEER CHEER! THE TALE OF BUNSHICHI The Cherry Orchard—Blossoming Mr. Tadano’s Secret Mission—From Japan with Love Akai ito Tomica Hero Rescue Force The Movie Bakuso! Tomica Hero Grand Prix Tomica Hero Rescue Force Bakuretsu Movie—Mach Train o Rescue seyo RAKUDA RENJISHI less than ¥0.30 billionImported films 1 The Golden Compass ¥3.70 billion 2 The Forbidden Kingdom ¥0.71 billion Others Closing the Ring A Chorus Line less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥16.00 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute
  15. 15. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Major Distributors2928¢ Kadokawa Pictures Inc.Though Kadokawa is a member of the Motion Picture ProducersAssociation of Japan (EIREN) along with Toho, Shochiku and Toei, itcontinued to struggle mainly because it does not operate an expandednetwork of cinemas. During 2008, Kadokawa released eight Japanese andten imported films for a total of 18 films, with combined box-office takingsof ¥3,611.33 million. Though the 2008 figure was up to 143% of ¥2,525.02million for 2007, there remains a wide gap between the company and theBig Three of Toho, Shochiku and Toei.Yet the expectations remain high for2009 and onward, with a lineup of such films as Forever Enthralled, Zen andPenguins in the Sky—Asahiyama Zoo (Asahiyama dobutsuen), and a largebudget production, A Sun That Never Sets (Shizumanu taiyo) also gettingunder way.¢ Toho-Towa Co., Ltd.In 2008, Toho-Towa’s annual box-office takings amounted to ¥14,118.85million, a sharp increase to 228.7% of ¥6,173.44 million for 2007. The bigleap stemmed chiefly from the commissioned distribution of UniversalPictures, including Wanted (¥2.5 billion), The Mummy: Tomb of the DragonEmperor (¥2.2 billion) and American Gangster (¥1.05 billion). On top of this came Red Cliff Part 1 (¥5.05 billion), jointly distributedwith Avex Entertainment. The film is a movie adaptation of China’s“Three Kingdom Saga,” which still enjoys the deep-rooted popularity inJapan. Although initially there was concern that the naming of “Red Cliff”does not immediately remind movie fans of “Three Kingdom Saga,” thefilm cast aside such concern and earned more than ¥5 billion. Toho-Towa demonstrated its prowess with this box-office figure by restrainingpurchases on its own amid the continuing difficult environment forimported films in the film market. title box officeJapanese film 1 Partners: The Movie ¥4.44 billion 2 Climber’s High ¥1.18 billion 3 Where the Legend Lives ¥0.95 billion 4 ONE PIECE THE MOVIE: Episode of Chopper +The Miracle Winter Cherry Blossom ¥0.91 billion 5 MASKED RIDER KIVA THE MOVIE/GO-ONGERS THE MOVIE ¥0.90 billion 6 YES! PRETTY CURE 5 GO GO! THE MOVIE —Happy Birthday in Candy Land/others ¥0.79 billion 7 Haru no Kamen rider matsuri ¥0.73 billion 8 Masked Rider Den—O: Final Countdown ¥0.72 billion 9 Chacha: Tengai no onna ¥0.45 billion 10 KIDS ¥0.33 billion Others Johnen—Sada no Ai Haru yo koi Chameleon Flying Rabbits Orochi—Blood— Dear My Cosmo Flavor of Happiness Love Fight Kitaro—20th Anniversary TV Animation less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥11.90 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute title box officeJapanese film 1 Sergeant Keroro The Super Duper Movie 3 —Keroro vs Keroro The Battle of the Sky— ¥0.56 billion Others Kung Fu Kid DIVE!! SAMURAI GANGSTERS Scenery to Remember Je t’aime watashi wa kemono Rashomon—Digital Full Version Rescue Wings less than ¥0.30 billionImported films 1 Eagle Eye ¥1.20 billion 2 Nim’s Island ¥0.46 billion 3 Mr. Magoriem’s Wonder Emporium ¥0.34 billion Others Black House Things We Lost in the Fire May 18 One Missed Call Kung Fu Dunk Guantanamero less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥3.61 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute
  16. 16. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Major Distributors30 31¢ Gaga Communications, Inc.In 2008, Gaga Communications earned ¥7,753.48 million excluding TheGolden Compass jointly distributed with Shochiku and Climber’s Highjointly distributed with Toei, reaching 155% of their ¥5,014.30 million in2007. However, its attempt to realize a major synergy effect with Gyao byjoining the USEN Group in December 2004 did not move forward as ithad expected, and Gaga Communications at last in April 2008 announcedits policy to withdraw from the film purchase business and equityparticipation in filmmaking. At the same time, USEN Corp. President UnoYasuhide established “U’s Film” with his personal funds to take over GagaCommunications’ film business. Despite the commotion regarding the company’s future direction,the fact that it successfully distributed a documentary film, Earth Planet,with box-office takings of ¥2.4 billion, should be noted for its meticulouspromotion expected only from an independent film distribution. GagaCommunications also saved its own face by bringing in over ¥1 billionfrom John Rambo. Among Japanese films it distributed, Cyborg, She (Boku no kanojowa cyborg) showed a relatively strong performance with revenues of ¥700million, although 700 Days of Battle: Us vs. the Police (Bokutachi to chuzai-san no 700 nichi senso) and Snakes and Earrings (Hebi ni piasu) failed toturn in satisfactory performance.¢ Asmik Ace Entertainment, Inc.In 2008, Asmik Ace Entertainment raked in ¥6,029.45 million in annualbox-office takings,raising them to 113% of their ¥5,327.29 million for 2007.Asmik Ace released seven films independently, two films with KadokawaEntertainment and another film with Astaire, for a total of 10 films for theyear, down one from 2007. The commissioned distribution of Dreamworksfilms, which Gaga Communications started in 2005, ended with Kung FuPanda released in the summer. Going forward, Dreamworks live-action films will be distributedby Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Japan and animation films byParamount. The much-anticipated Kung Fu Panda fared well with box-office takings of ¥2 billion, but still failed to reach its target, consideringthat in Korea, the film drew over four million movie-goers (the audiencenumbers translated into over ¥5 billion at the average admission fee inJapan). Silk, a film jointly produced with Italian and Canadian companies,earned ¥280 million. My Blueberry Nights directed by Wong Kar-Waiearned ¥550 million through the expanded showing. The Diving Bell andthe Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papil), released at Cinema Rise, turned ina steady performance with box-office takings of ¥170 million. Among Japanese films, Best Wishes for Tomorrow earned ¥600 million,followed by firm results for The Witch of the West Is Dead with ¥450 millionand Gu Gu, the Cat with ¥260 million. title box officeImported films 1 Red Cliff Part 1 ¥5.05 billion 2 Wanted ¥2.50 billion 3 The Mummy—Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ¥2.20 billion 4 American Gangster ¥1.05 billion 5 August Rush ¥0.75 billion 6 Elizabeth: The Golden Age ¥0.65 billion 7 Charlie Wilson’s War ¥0.46 billion 8 Mr. Bean’s Holiday ¥0.45 billion Others Atonement Leatherheads Death Race Forgetting Sarah Marshall less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥14.10 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute title box officeJapanese film 1 Cyborg, She ¥0.70 billion Others 700 Days of Battle: Us vs. the Police Snakes and Earrings less than ¥0.30 billionImported films 1 Earth ¥2.40 billion 2 Sex and the City ¥1.70 billion 3 Rambo ¥1.00 billion 4 Journey to the Center of the Earth ¥0.85 billion 5 Next ¥0.45 billion Others Mister Lonely Annie Leibovitz—Life Through a Lens Ninja Cheerleaders Goodbye Bafana Hot Fuzz Semi-pro Love in the Time of Cholera less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥7.80 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute
  17. 17. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Major Distributors32 33¢ Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc. (SPE)In 2008, Sony Pictures distributed a total of 18 films with annual box-officetakings of ¥6,839.83 million, a severe fall to only 42.0% of their ¥16.37billion in 2007. Sony Pictures earned ¥14.63 billion in 2006 to set a newrecord for its box-office takings in Japan, and renewed the record in thefollowing 2007. Computer graphics animation film Surf’s Up raked in ¥330 million,a far cry from Happy Feet (¥1.45 billion), attesting to the difficulty inmarketing American-made animation films in Japan. The ensuing TheWater Horse (¥220 million), Vantage Point (¥850 million) and 21 (¥450million) did not fare well either. In 2008, Sony Pictures also successively released American comics-based films and CG action hero series, including The Incredible Hulk,Iron Man and Hancock. Though Hancock turned in a good performancewith box-office takings of ¥3.1 billion, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Manfailed to reach the company’s targets, with ¥190 million and ¥940 million,respectively. The showing of Ano sora o oboeteru, a Japanese film SonyPictures distributed, also proved to be a low-profile screening.¢ Warner Entertainment Japan Inc.In 2008, Warner Brothers released a total of 19 films (13 imported filmsand six Japanese films), with annual box-office takings of ¥16,392.13million, an unexpectedly poor showing with only 63.1% of their ¥25.98billion in 2007. Since the dependence on imported films supplied from thehome country alone would make the Japanese branch office’s managementunstable,Warner Brothers first went into the purchase and local acquisitionbusinesses on its own, with strong results of films such as HERO (2003/¥5billion), LOVERS (2004/ ¥2,3 billion) and Windstruck (2005/¥2 billion).The company then embarked on local production operations by theJapanese branch office, turning in an impressive performance with DeathNote (2006/ ¥2.85 billion) and L Change the WorLd (2008/ ¥3.1 billion). As for imported films supplied from the home country, I Am Legendmade a great start with revenues of ¥4.31 billion, whereas The Dark Knightwas rather a disappointment with only ¥1.6 billion. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Jonny Depp(¥2.05 billion) firmly stayed over ¥2 billion, while The Bucket List (¥1.35billion) also fared strongly by drawing viewers in older age brackets,together with 10,000 BC (¥1.005 billion). Despite high expectations, SpeedRacer was a poor performer with revenues of only ¥400 million. Among locally produced films, L change the WorLd was a big hitwith box-office takings of ¥3.1 billion, but other Japanese films fell shortof expectations, including Accuracy of Death (¥503 million), ICHI (¥445million) and Sushi Prince Goes to N.Y. (¥365 million). title box officeJapanese film 1 The Handsome Suit ¥0.86 billion 2 Best Wishes for Tomorrow ¥0.60 billion 3 The Witch of the West Is Dead ¥0.45 billion Others Tokyo Only Pictures 2008 (highlights) Gu Gu, the Cat Mahou no iRando—teddy bear Mahou no iRando—Osana Najimi less than ¥0.30 billionImported films 1 Kung Fu Panda ¥2.00 billion 2 My Blueberry Nights ¥0.55 billion Others Silk Bee Movie Revolver Saw 5 JCVD less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥6.00 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute 5 Surf’s Up ¥0.33 billion Others Reign over Me The Water Horse-Legend of the Deep The Jane Austen Book Club Untraceable Good Luck Chuck Blue Blue Blue CJ7 Starship Troopers 3 The Incredible Hulk Pistol Whipped Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead Zombie Strippers less than ¥0.30 billionJapanese film Ano sora o oboeteru less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥6.83 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute title box officeImported films 1 Hancock ¥3.10 billion 2 Iron Man ¥0.94 billion 3 Vantage Point ¥0.85 billion 4 21 ¥0.45 billion
  18. 18. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Major Distributors34 35¢ Twentieth Century Fox (Far East), Inc. (FOX)In 2008, FOX distributed a total of 16 films for annual box-office takings of¥7.87 billion, with a sharp fall to only 70.2% of their ¥11.21 billion in 2007.Three films released at the end of 2007 as winter holiday films all registeredrevenues of over ¥1 billion: AVPR: Aliens vs Predator—Requiem (¥1.068billion), Jumper (¥1.74 billion) and The Happening (¥1.226 billion). However, Lions for Lambs by Director Robert Redford earned only¥615 million, although the film featured big stars such as Redford, TomCruise and Meryl Streep, and What Happens in Vegas starring CameronDiaz did not do well either with revenues of only ¥609 million, providingfurther evidence of Japanese movie-goers’ growing estrangement fromimported films.¢ Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, JapanIn 2008, Walt Disney released six films for annual box-office takings of¥10.8446 billion, a disastrous outcome of only 56.3% of their ¥19.27 billionfor 2007. However, considering the number of films released during theyear, the results can be described as stable. Revenues of ¥2.575 billion from National Treasure 2: Book of Secretswas higher than ¥2.06 billion for National Treasure, the previous film in theseries. Enchanted was a mega-hit with revenues of ¥2.91 billion, stronglyattracting female viewers amid the oft-repeated estrangement fromimported films among Japanese movie fans. Furthermore, There Will Be Blood released through mini-theaterchains, was not bad either, but The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspianraked in only ¥3 billion. Given that box-office takings of the previousfilm in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and theWardrobe, were as high as ¥6.88 billion, the decline in revenue from thelatest film was particularly severe. A CG animation film WALL·E earned ¥3.9 billion.Walt Disney’s plansto make all Disney animation films as 3D films are likely to give a significantimpact on the digitization of cinemas in Japan. title box officeImported films 1 I Am Legend ¥4.30 billion 2 Sweeney Todd—The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ¥5.10 billion 3 The Dark Knight ¥3.20 billion 4 The Bucket List ¥1.35 billion 5 10,000 BC ¥1.00 billion 6 Beowulf ¥0.82 billion 7 Nights in Rodanthe ¥0.44 billion 8 Speed Racer ¥0.40 billion Others Curse of the Golden Flower Fool’s Gold, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Star Wars: The Clone Wars Get Smart Body of Lies less than ¥0.30 billionJapanese film L’change the WorLd ¥0.31 billion Accuracy of Death ¥0.50 billion ICHI ¥0.44 billion Sushi Prince Goes to N.Y. ¥0.36 billiontotal ¥16.40 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute Others 28 Weeks Later Daywatch The Darjeeling Limited Juno Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who Shutter X-Files: I Want to Believe The Day the Earth Stood Still less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥7.90 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute title box officeImported Films 1 Jumper ¥1.74 billion 2 The Happening ¥1.22 billion 3 AVPR: Aliens vs Predator—Requiem ¥1.06 billion 4 Lions for Lambs ¥0.61 billion 5 What Happens in Vegas ¥0.60 billion 6 27 Dresses ¥0.37 billion title box officeImported Films 1 The Chronicles of Narnia—Prince Caspian ¥3.00 billion 2 Enchanted ¥2.90 billion 3 National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets ¥2.57 billion 4 Meet the Robinsons ¥0.93 billion Others There Will Be Blood Wild Hogs less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥10.80 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute
  19. 19. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Statistics 200836 37¢ Paramount Pictures JapanParamount Pictures Japan is an entity that came into being in the wake ofthe disbandment of UIP. In 2008, Paramount Pictures released six films fortotal box-office takings of ¥8,176.14 million. The commemorative first film, Cloverfield, was reminiscent of TheBlair Witch Project by its shooting with a handheld camera in the fashion ofan independent producer. The film earned ¥1.2 billion with the success ofits attention-grabbing advertising message aimed at the younger audiencethat they would risk feeling dizzy by viewing the film. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull released in June wonthe title of the top earner among imported films, with box-office takings of¥5.71 billion, though it failed to reach the ¥10 billion target. Among filmsreleased through mini-theater chains, the Oscar-winning No Country forOld Men by the Coen Brothers (jointly distributed with Showgate) rakedin ¥340 million, an all-time high for a film by the Coen Brothers. Another noteworthy development with Paramount Pictures is itsdecision to start the distribution of films by Dreamworks Pictures in Japanin 2009.Statistics 2008 title box officeImported Films 1 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ¥5.71 billion 2 Cloverfield ¥1.20 billion 3 The Spiderwick Chronicles ¥1.30 billion 4 No Country for Old Men ¥0.34 billion Others Angus Thongs & Perfect Snogging Tropic Thunder less than ¥0.30 billiontotal ¥8.20 billionSource: Kinema Junpo Film Institute1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 20080200400600800230 240 238 251289 278 278 249 270 282 281 293 287 310356417 407 418467377 352 302321 320 333306298362 349 347 335339375404 403 388697617590553610 598 611555 568644 630 640622649731821 810 806Japanese filmsrted filmsTotNumber of films released alImpo050100150200million1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008138.330125.600130.720122.990127.040119.575140.719153.102144.762135.390163.280160.767162.347170.092160.453164.277163.193160.491Cinema admissionsSource: Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc.Source: Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc.
  20. 20. Chapter 1Japan’s Film Industry Statistics 200838 391991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 200801,0001,1001,2001,300yen1,1811,2101,252 1,249 1,243 1,2451,259 1,264 1,263 1,2621,226 1,2241,2521,240 1,235 1,2331,216 1,214Average admission fee05001,0001,5002,0002,5003,000Screens showing Japanese filmsScreens showing imported filmsScreens showing bothTotal507 487 783 9191,1911,567 1,723 1,839 1,992 2,225 2,407 2,710 2,915 3,1011,804 1,744 1,734 1,758 1,776 1,828 1,8841,9932,2212,524 2,585 2,635 2,6812,8252,9263,0623,2213,359522 564 650 706530 521 483 473 445 427279 257 231 213 191 152 140 122718 697 682 673 643 649 656 647693 647583 539458 387 328200 166 1361991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008579 560337 310Number of screens050,000100,000150,000200,000million yen1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008163,378152,000163,700153,590157,865148,870177,197193,499182,835170,862200,154196,780203,259210,914198,160202,553,198443194,836Box office receipts Market share of imported films Japanese films Hollywood films Non-Hollywood imported films no. of film box office addmissions no. of film box office addmissions no. of film box office addmissions releases (yen) releases (yen) releases (yen) share share share share share share share share share2000 282 54.3 billion 43 million 81 61.1 billion 48.4 million 281 55.4 billion 43.9 million 43.8% 31.80% 31.80% 12.6% 35.8% 35.77% 43.6% 32.4% 32.42% 2001 281 78.1 billion 64 million 65 76.5 billion 62.4 million 284 45.4 billion 37.1 million 44.6% 39.00% 39.04% 10.3% 38.2% 38.22% 45.1% 22.7% 22.72% 2002 293 53.2 billion 43 million 68 93.2 billion 76.2 million 279 50.1 billion 41 million 45.8% 27.10% 27.08% 10.6% 47.4% 47.40% 43.6% 25.5% 25.50% 2003 287 67.1 billion 54 million 93 85 billion 67.9 million 242 51.1 billion 40 million 46.1% 33.00% 33.02% 15.0% 41.8% 41.82% 38.9% 25.2% 25.15% 2004 310 79 billion 64 million 78 89.9 billion 71.8 million 261 41.9 billion 33 million 47.8% 37.50% 37.89% 12.0% 42.6% 42.23% 40.2% 19.9% 19.87% 2005 356 81.7 billion 66 million 81 73 billion 58.9 million 294 43.2 billion 35 million 48.7% 41.30% 41.42% 11.1% 36.9% 36.73% 40.2% 21.8% 21.84% 2006 417 107.9 billion 89 million 96 73.7 billion 57.9 million 308 21.2 billion 17 million 50.8% 53.20% 54.20% 11.7% 36.3% 35.29% 37.5% 10.5% 10.50% 2007 407 94.6 billion 77 million 78 82.1 billion 67.5 million 325 21.6 billion 17 million 50.2% 47.70% 47.66% 9.6% 41.4% 41.41% 40.1% 10.9% 10.91% 2008 417 115.8 billion 95 million 68 56.3 billion 46.4 million 320 22.6 billion 18.6 million 51.9% 59.50% 59.46% 8.43% 28.90% 28.91% 39.70% 11.62% 11.62%Source: Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc. Source: Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc.Source: Kinema Junpo Film InstituteSource: Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc.
  21. 21. Chapter 2Co-production System in Japan Development of Co-production System and Its Structure40 41most number of European countries. As such, it can be said that European countries started co-producinglarge-scale films to compete with Hollywood films. EuropaCorp foundedin 2001 by Director Luc Besson was established with an aim to producefilms targeting the world market. France has already signed co-productionagreements with a number of countries around the globe and is activelypromoting international co-production of films. The development of thepoint system for defining the level and type of involvement of a companyin each project became important for determining the benefits such asgovernment subsidies for domestic films. Through such developments,attention has been called to the significance of establishing the definitionof “film nationality” in co-productions.2. Development of Co-production in East Asia and JapanThis trend for international co-production of films in Europe has becomemore popular in East Asia after the return of Hong Kong to China as wellas Korean TV dramas and films craze in Asia. One big turning point inparticular was the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signedDevelopment of Co-production System andIts Structure By Kakeo Yoshio, Executive Director, Kinema Junpo Film Institute1. Development of Co-production in EuropeIn 2001, UNESCO adopted the “UNESCO Universal Declaration onCultural Diversity.” This approach was taken in the effort to protect theunique culture of each country and region in the world of continuingglobalization, which is now dominated by the contents created with a largebudget. At the same time, however, it implicated the tremendous threatimposed by Hollywood. In Europe, initiative to promote the film industry“Media Plus” has been launched as a measure to protect its unique culture,with the objective to maintain, pass on and revitalize the cinematic artand expression of Europe as its cultural heritage. This project supports theproduction of high-quality European films through provision of subsidiesto films that are jointly produced and/or distributed by more than oneEuropean country. At Cannes International Film Festival, for example, EUMedia Award is awarded every year to the film that was screened in theChapter 2Co-production System in Japan
  22. 22. Chapter 2Co-production System in Japan Development of Co-production System and Its Structure42 43by Hong Kong and China in 2004. This treaty allowed the entry of HongKong films to the Chinese market without being restricted under theimport quota on imported film. As films of any country may enter theChinese market through co-production with Hong Kong, the internationalco-production of films between Hong Kong and other countries hasincreased. Furthermore, the number of co-production films betweenChina and Hong Kong has also been following an increasing trend. Whilethe film market in China is still not big at the moment, expectations arehigh that it will develop into a gigantic market in the near future togetherwith its economic development.As such,countries of the Chinese-speakingregions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia are thoughtto further enhance their ties with China. In addition, the number of jointprojects between Korea and China is also increasing since the film marketin Korea is small despite its high level of film planning, development andproduction skills, as well as because Korea has seen a limit in the Japanesefilm market. These governments are also actively providing support forinternational co-production of films in their countries. In Korea, KoreanFilm Council (KOFIC) actively supports the promotion of Korean filmsand co-productions with Korean filmmakers. In China, China Film Co-Production Corporation serves as a central body for acknowledginginternational co-production of films as a national policy. The Japanese industry, on the other hand, has not been too eagerabout international co-productions mostly because it is the second largestfilm market in the world. In recent years, however, Japan has shifted its gearas it can be seen in UNIJAPAN initiative J-Pitch, a support program forinternational co-production launched in 2006 with the support of Japan’sMinistry of Economy, Trade and Industry. J-Pitch seeks film projects withinternational co-production potential and helps Japanese film producersparticipate at international project markets including among all those inCannes, Pusan and Berlin. The interest in international co-production of films has been growinggradually in Japan partly because of the support offered by the government.However, the stance taken by the Japanese film industry for co-productionis generally one of the following two. Major film companies are showing amore conservative stance as they maintain a stable share in the domesticmarket and do not have much need to venture out into other overseasmarkets.Inaddition,theyarepassiveabouttheinternationalco-productionsas there are few successful cases of international co-productions that Japanwas involved in as well as skeptical about the credibility of the internationalco-production project partners. On the contrary, the producers with projects of strong storylineand companies for independent films that face difficulty in the domesticmarket are more eager for international co-production of films. The areasand genres of involvement is also starting to expand, including investmentto the directors of artistic films such as Jia Zhang Ke (China), AbbasKiarostami (Iran) and Kim Ki-Duk (Korea), as well as entertainment filmssuch as A Battle of Wits and Red Cliff.3. Trying to Define International Co-productionThere is no clear-cut definition of international co-production in Japan.J-Pitch program recognizes projects as international co-productions ifthere is the participation of more than one country to invest in the filmand the participation of a Japanese producer in the project. In Japaninternationalco-productionstakeonvariousformsandanumberof factorsmust be considered and included when creating its definition.These factorswould be for instance, co-production of several countries, investment ofseveral countries in a well-known director or in a project which surely hasa potential of becoming a success. In the past, Oshima Nagisa directed Inthe Realm of the Senses with the investment of a French company. Both thecast and crew were Japanese, but the film nationality was French. Oshimahas since directed a number of international co-productions includingMax mon amour and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. Similarly, KurosawaAkira has also directed such works as Dersu Uzala, Ran and Dreams withinvestments from several countries. These are cases of international capitalinvestment to allow the esteemed directors of Japan to shoot films, butthere are many other works that have been produced as international co-production.4. Works Recognized as Co-production in Japan Three Patterns and Recent Cases¡Pattern 1: Producers, cast and crew from several countries are involved in a filminvested by those countries.list of recent major works A Battle of Wits 2006; invested by China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan;cast includes Chinese, Korean and Hong Kong actorsCrossing Over 2007; invested by China and Japan;cast includes Nakai Kiichi and Miao PuDream 2008; invested by Korea and Japan;cast includes Odagiri Joehana kage 2007; invested by Japan and Korea;cast includes Kim Rae Won and Yamamoto MiraiLast Life in the Universe 2003; invested by Thailand, the Netherlands, France, Singaporeand Japan; starring Asano Tadanobu
  23. 23. Chapter 2Co-production System in Japan Development of Co-production System and Its Structure44 45¡Pattern 2: Producers, cast and crew from several countries are involved in a filmproduced by a single country.¡Pattern 3: A foreign country investing in a Japanese film or a Japanese companyinvesting in a foreign film.5. Challenges in Co-producing with Japan 1) Film NationalityThe more common international co-production of films becomes, themore ambiguous the film nationality is. It is certain that the definitionof international co-production of films has not yet been determined inJapan as public assistance and incentives for film production remain low,together with the fact that Japan has signed an agreement for internationalco-productions only with one country thus far (Japan and Canada signeda co-production agreement in 1994). Nevertheless, the international co-production  projects have been actively promoted and made possible inJapan from the standpoint of investment by production companies andfor the sake of furthering the promotion of international exchange in thefield of film industry. 2) Japanese Production SystemIn recent years, a group of companies referred to as the productioncommittee that is comprised of several investors produces majority of thefilms in Japan. After its peak in the first half of the 1960s, the Japanese filmindustry has been marking a long downward trend. At the time, five majorcompanies (Shochiku, Toho, Toei, Daiei Motion Picture and Nikkatsu) ranthe film industry, and these companies had their own studios and box-office network of various sizes. In other words, these companies controlledthe film business. However, as economic downturn prolonged and enteredthe 1970s, the most costly part of the film business, the production sectionwas separated from the rest of the filming process and outsourced. That ishow a film production came to be invested by several companies. Once hitting the 1980s, Japan entered its bubble economy andThe Longest Night in Shanghai 2007; invested by Japan and China;cast includes Motoki Masahiro and Vicki ZhaoPlastic City 2008; invested by China, France, Brazil and Japan;cast includes Odagiri JoeRed Cliff 2008; invested by Japan, China, Korea, US and Taiwan;cast includes Kaneshiro Takeshi and Nakamura ShidoSilk 2007; invested by Italy, Canada, France, UK and Japan;cast includes Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley and Yakusho KojiTea Fight 2008; invested by Japan and Taiwan;cast includes Kagawa Teruyuki, Toda Erika and Vic ChowTOKYO! 2008; invested by France, Korea and Japan;cast includes Japanese actorsVirgin Snow 2006; invested by Japan and Korea;cast includes Miyazaki Aoi and Lee Jun-gilist of recent major works 2009: Lost Memories 2001; Korean film;starring Jang Dong Gun and Nakamura ToruCAFE LUMIERE 2003; Japanese film; with Taiwanese directorCyborg, She 2008; Japanese film; with Korean directorDevils on the Doorstep 2000; Chinese film; directed by Jiang Wen;cast includes Kagawa TeruyukiThe Grudge 2004; US remake of a Japanese film;cast and crew include Japanese producer, director and actorsThe Grudge 2 2006; US remake of a Japanese film;cast and crew include Japanese producer, director and actorsThe Last Samurai 2003; Hollywood film;cast includes Watanabe Ken and Sanada HiroyukiLetters from Iwo Jima 2006; Hollywood film; cast includes Japanese actorsNuan 2003; Chinese film; directed by Huo Jianqi;cast includes Kagawa TeruyukiOne Missed Call Final 2006; Japanese film; with Korean director and crewRikidozan: A Hero Extraordinary 2004; Korean film; starring Sol Kyung-gu and Nakatani Mikilist of recent major works Gu Gu, the Cat 2008; Japanese film; with Korean capitalMarie Antoinette 2006; Japanese film; with US and French capitalThe MOURNING FOREST 2007; Japanese film; with French capitalONE MISSED CALL 2008; US remake of a Japanese film;with Japanese capitalOver-the-Shoulder Lover 2007; Korean film; with Japanese capitalThe Ring 2002; US remake of a Japanese film; with Japanese capitalTokyo Sonata 2008;Japanese film; with the Netherlandish and Hong Kong capital
  24. 24. Chapter 2Co-production System in Japan Development of Co-production System and Its Structure46 47companies from various industries started to invest in films. However,several companies investing in a film at the time was to avert risk ratherthan to take advantage and supplement each other’s skills. This trend fora production committee started to carry a different purpose when filmproduction investment even by several companies was facing seriouschallenges after the burst of the bubble in 1989. It started to be comprisedof companies that would financially gain from its participation. The filmcompany would theatrically release the film, the publisher would publishthe original story, the video company would sell the video of the film, theadvertisement company would publicize as well as TV and radio networkswould broadcast or advertise the film. The said members advertised thefilm using their own medium, creating a synergetic effect. Today theproduction committees comprised of such members are involved in theproduction of most of the films from major to independent ones. As such,a production committee consisting of major film companies, TV networksand publishers that can utilize their networks and advertisement skills, inmost cases would lead the film it produces to a greater success. On theother hand, the films produced out of this system can hardly become greathits. The administrative company and other participating companies ofthe production committee carry out film production through consensualdecision-making. The production committee is the copyright holder of thefilm, and sales are divided among its members according to the investmentratio. For example, TV networks and video companies that are membersof the production committee must purchase the right to broadcast and theright for video distribution from the production committee respectively.The TV networks and video companies then receive dividends based ontheir investment ratio from the right fees they paid earlier. The advantage of forming a production committee is that companieswith strong networks and financial capability come together and multiplytheir resources.On the other hand,one of the disadvantages of a productioncommittee is that decision-making takes time and lacks the capacity toflexibly respond to unexpected problems. Japanese production committees have had issues when engaged inan international co-production of films with overseas companies. This isbecause when the producer of the partner company from overseas and theproducerof themanagingcompanyrepresentingtheproductioncommitteejointly produce a film, the approval of the production committee must beobtained for any changes made in the storyline, cast, etc. The producer ofthe managing company holds a decision-making power to some degree,but approval of the production committee must be obtained for majorchanges. In this respect, the production committee system practiced inJapan faces difficulties when producing a film with a partner companyfrom overseas. For example, in Korea and China the director on the set hasa strong decision-making power, or in Europe and the US the producer hasa strong decision-making power.
  25. 25. Chapter 2Co-production System in Japan J-Pitch: Support Program for International Co-production48 49J-Pitch: Support Program for InternationalCo-productionJ-Pitch is an international co-production support program administeredby UNIJAPAN and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI),initiated in April, 2006 by the support of METI. J-PitchwaslaunchedasaninitiativesupportingtheJapaneseproducersdeveloping international co-productions and enabling Japanese films tocompete in the international market. Japanese producers with projectsthat have co-production potential are supported by J-Pitch through thearrangement of collaborative meetings, conferences, and other relatedactivities held both within Japan and at contents markets worldwide. J-Pitch’s remit is: to identify and develop film projects that could becompleted as international co-productions or which have a high possibilityof success in the international market; to foster an exchange of ideas andprojectsbetweenJapaneseproducersandtheircounterpartsinotherpartsofthe world; to build relationships with experienced international producers,who could act as consultants for the projects and for the building of linkswith established producer training programs in other parts of the world.1. J-Pitch ActivitiesTo foster the networking and interaction between Japanese and overseasfilm producers and to promote the development of Japanese content andfilm industry, J-Pitch carries out the following activities. 1) Participations at the International Project MarketsIn cooperation with the international project markets, J-Pitch organizesbusiness meetings where the Japanese producers and Japan basedproducers are given an opportunity to directly introduce their projectsto the overseas producers. J-Pitch holds open entries for partneredmarkets. To selected producers J-Pitch also covers expenses for overseastravel and promotional materials translation, and arranges interpreters, ifnecessary. In 2009, J-Pitch works in partnership with eight project marketsand networking venues which includes Cannes (Producers Network),Shanghai (Co-production Film Pitch and Catch), Paris (Paris Project),Toronto (International Financing Forum), Pusan (Pusan Promotion Plan),Rotterdam (CineMart), Berlin (Co-Production Market), and Hong Kong(Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum). Among the projects which were submitted through J-Pitch so far, thefollowing projects entered official selection:Shanghai International Film Festival,Co-production Film Pitch and Catch (Co-FPC)Funahashi Atsushi Déjà Vu Cities Village Productions (2008)Iseki Satoru Li-liang Tara Contents Inc. (2008)Fushimi Tomoko Seiroki Running Beagle LLC. (2008)Paris Cinema International Film Festival,Paris ProjectIchiyama Shozo Déjà Vu Cities Office Kitano Inc. (2008)Sonoki Miyako DAZAI Chase Film International (2007)Toronto International Film Festival,International Financing Forum (IFF)Sato Hideaki Sushi Man Dream One Inc. (2008)Sakahara Atsushi Kyoko Good People Inc. (2008)Tokikawa Toru Single Hit Rivertime Entertainment Ltd. (2008)Suzuki Akihiro School Girl in A Cage S.I.G. Co., Ltd. (2008)Takeyama Masatoshi Samurai Interpreter WAO World Co., Ltd. (2008)