Japan Today

Film box-office revenue down 17.9% in 2011


The movie industry in Japan took a hit last year, suffering a 17.9% decline in box-office revenue, the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan said this week.

Association chairman Nobuyoshi Otani told a news conference that the box office take fell from an all-time high in 2010 to 181.2 billion yen in 2011, Sankei Shimbun reported. Audience numbers decreased by about 30 million to 145 million.

Otani blamed the falling numbers on the March 11 disaster, which also took a toll on movie theaters (40 were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region).

Otani said that 799 films opened in Japan last year. Japanese films garnered 54.9% of revenue, outearning foreign films for the 4th consecutive year, Sankei reported. The highest-grossing domestic film was Studio Ghibli's animation "From Up On Poppy Hill" (4.46 billion yen), while the No. 1 foreign film was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" (9.67 billion yen).

Otani said the movie industry faces many challenges from other forms of digital and multimedia entertainment and that many moviegoers have less disposable income than before. Nevertheless, he said the industry has to make better movies if it hopes to lure audiences back.

The results in Japan mirror the situation in the U.S. where 2011 audience numbers were the lowest since 1995, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Critics say that despite new technology such as 3D, audiences are staying away due to the tight economy, a backlash against parades of sequels or remakes, and an almost-limitless inventory of portable and at-home gadgetry to occupy people's time.

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Hint to theaters: stop threatening viewers with prison for downloading movies. We're the ones sitting in the theater and paying for tickets!

9 ( +9 / -1 )

Also the fact that standard TV's now are much larger and are wide screen format. Why go to a theater and empty your wallet?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

well have to say hollywood doesn't make the best movies anymore. its really difficult to get to a real theater which plays a variety if you don't live in a big city.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am gonna go w/ the movies they offer suck and nobody wants to pay that much. When I pay $10 each for a family of 4 and then fork out another $40 for snacks, the movie better not suck.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Went to the movies with my wife last week, during the day, and it cost us 3600 yen just for the tickets. Prices need to come down.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This is partly my fault. I've been to the movie theater only once since I went to see Forrest Gump.

Charles - How much was it including the drinks and snacks?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I f Japan started making good movies again rather than the same old girlfriend gets cancer/smap member plays manga character crap they might get more bums on seats. Then again, probably not.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The movie industry really needs to embrace home audiences. I also think it's time to do away with the release restriction of media from country to country. If you want your product out there then make it available to everyone at their liesure. Theatres aren't that bad as compared to back in North America - price-wise. The concessions and such are far superior here for price and quality. As well, we can have a beer in the theatre. Theatres need to be creative with the pricing by offering deals on certain days and for certain times, too. They could also charge less for older movies and perhaps do some PPV deals for big sporting events.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Simple solution. Lower prices, get better movies. That's it.

Can't remember the last time I saw a good comedy movie in the theaters in Japan that wasn't the Hangover. Enough with the Potters, Pirates, Manga, Gantz, and Tom Cruise.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

well have to say hollywood doesn't make the best movies anymore.

kitsuki14 -- really? Well who does then? The #1 Japanese movie last year grossed less than half of what Harry Potter did? So that would say even Japanese fans think the best Japanese movie is not as good as a U.S. one.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"Otani said the movie industry faces many challenges from other forms of digital and multimedia entertainment and that many moviegoers have less disposable income than before. Nevertheless, he said the industry has to make better movies if it hopes to lure audiences back."

Don't shift the blame for the drop to the people who make the movies! The movies are just fine. There are three main reasons why the movie theatre industry is suffering: 1) (the biggest) the prices are too damn high in Japan. Drop the cost to 1000 yen per person for a regular ticket, and 800 yen for discount, and I guarantee that the theatres will be packed. While it seems a substantial drop in revenue on paper per ticket, the fact that people would go MUCH more would more than compensate, and even generate further profit. Look at pizza companies -- many of them these days are offering half-price pizzas for certain pizzas every month, and business is booming where before it was being threatened (and their obviously still making a profit on the half-priced pizzas or they wouldn't lower the costs as much). 2) Focus is shifting back from the big screen to the flat screen, or television. Many big name actors in the West are going back to television, so instead of watching a two hour episode for 1800 yen, people can watch exciting video in the comfort of their homes, for free (well, the cost of cable). That's more in the West than Japan at the moment, but you can watch a lot of such programs on channels that show Western programs, and even star a few Japanese from time to time. 3) Downloading. Don't blame the people for wanting free and easy access to shows/movies that cost 1800 a pop here, and come out up to two years late. The industry has become so protectionist that you can no longer order and of course BUY DVDs or movies on any iTunes outside the nation of your computer's address, nor can you order from Amazon companies overseas.

Drop the prices and drop the threats. Respect the customer instead of biting the hand that feeds you and then demanding more from them.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Speaking for myself only, I am tired of seeing remakes and sequels. There is very little new or original. But I can understand the reasons given in the story - there are so many gadgets competing for people's disposable income and time that going to the movies isn't as much fun as it used to be.

When I was a kid, Saturday night at the movies was a tradition (two features back then). That was followed by the drive-in. Video changed the whole movie-going experience for at least two generations.

Another problem for me in Tokyo is trying to make it to the 7 p.m. screening, especially on a week night. You rush from work to get to the theater, no time to have dinner, and spend the first half of the movie juggling something to eat and drink in the darkness. No fun at all.

Downloading of movies isn't a factor for me,. I have never downloaded a film or TV show in my life and, quite frankly, can't see why anyone would want to. I do buy DVDs because I have built up a library over the years and I enjoy the extras that come with the DVD.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

a backlash against parades of sequels or remakes

Holliwoond remakes everything to make it worse. i.e. The girl with dragon tattoo etc

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

My bad. I haven't been out to see any movies recently for a few reasons. First, this year they have really pushed the 3D movies, which frankly, are a nuisance for me rather than a bonus. It's annoying to have to wear those heavy glasses overtop of my regular glasses and after the first 5 minutes of watching a 3D movie, my eyes adjust and I don't really even notice the 3D effects anymore. Waste of money to go see them. Plus, they add an extra 300 yen per ticket to view them. Secondly, the selection of movies has been a bit thin this year. Few movies that have truly caught my attention. I'm also with a few others in that I am annoyed by those ads to stop internet piracy. If I'm in the theatre, I'm not downloading, am I, so stop bugging me about it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm so guilty. Last night went to Tom Cruise Mission Impossible. Enjoyed it. Paid Y1800, which is too much, yes. I'm also guilty of looking forward to seeing the remakes of Star Wars in 3-D. Except for that faux-Ganga creepy character and the product placement teddy bears. Rest will be fine. Also guilty of popcorn buying, even though the popcorn is old and pretty bad. However, the line was too long so I forwent that guilty pleasure. Salt, no sugar.

However, I agree with smithinjapan and most of the posters here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Movie theaters are like ten-pin bowling and roller-skating: we all liked them as kids - but they've had their time in the sun.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What I am sick of is eye-popping action/stunts/CG that are contrived and totally unrealistic even within the bounds of and already unrealistic sci-fi world. They are getting to be a silly as a Tom and Jerry cartoon! I would like the movies to go back to being inspirational while still being somewhat realistic, or at least just not completely over the top. For example, compare the first Star Wars to Return of the Jedi. ROTJ was still a great movie, but it was on the edge of being too much. But look at how subtle Episode iV was! I would rather watch that than ROTJ, despite the obvious lower budget.

And yes, I am dead sick of being told not to pirate.

But also BurakuminDes has a point. Some things just get stale and there is not much you can do about it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

where im at its 800 after 8pm every night. still empty. gotta be something else. kids have curfews in japan. gotta be home by sun down, that goes until the age of 16 or so. then u get cram schools, studyng, work till late, THERE IS JUST ABSOLUTELY NO FREE TIME for japanese people to spend at a theatre.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

smartacus, i will try to let u know why some of us do. we can download movies in hours. dvd and blueray quality for free. gets deleted right away. if i need to watch it again, i just download it again. its called dvd on demand. the library is on the internet. theres is no need for the physical dvd for most us, just like most of us dont need tangible photos to , or CDs and now books. everything is just a click/download away. isnt technology beautiful. i guess u havent adapted yet and theres nothing wrong with that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

LoveNot: "Holliwoond remakes everything to make it worse. i.e. The girl with dragon tattoo etc"

Not true. Hollywood makes some terrible copies, to be sure, but they occasionally make a show that is better than the original. The Ring is one example.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Yep ticket prices are too expensives, and japanese movies also are making mediocre remakes, all those tsubaki kurasawa re-makes yikes!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The tickets and snacks are too expensive, the films are old by the time they get here, and people have other things on which to spend their money. With the threats of increased taxation, it's understandable that people will start to question the way they spend their disposable income.

As in so many aspects of Japanese life, the industry has to reform or die but will not do so until the current generation of boardroom geriatrics still mourning Audrey Hepburn retire.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am glad this article did not even bother to try and make the silly case that the cause is mostly pirating, because its not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

KingBasil - hear, hear!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I can't understand why people don't go to the movies as much. There is absolutely nothing I like better than an over-priced ticket to sit in a small room with a screen slightly bigger than a flat-screen TV and eat really expensive popcorn and potato chips. I just don't get it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the last time I went to see a movie, I WORKED in the place (part-time). It was FREE, all the movies were CRAP, my daughter was too young to sit still in the theatre, so we all LEFT. Haven't been back since, NEVERMIND seeing anything in JAPAN, that was back in the US!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Japanese films garnered 54.9% of revenue, outearning foreign films for the 4th consecutive year, Sankei reported."

Because the industry leaders announced a few years ago that it would be making a concerted effort to limit the number of foreign films shown in Japan in order to give a booth to the anemic Japanese film industry. Fancy that Japanese films can't make up the shortfall.

Considering Japanese filmaking is light years behind its heyday in the 1950s and 60s, it's small wonder that Japanese films are unable to draw larger audiences. Japanese films are as predictable as Western action films -- always the same plot, i.e., two people in love and the relationship is torn apart tragically when one person succumbs to a horrific and incurable disease. That kind of recycled pathos got tired after the first half dozen times I saw it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It real simple to bring back people is remove 3D. It is awful, everything is 3D, and no choice. Cinema is to forceful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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