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.© Japan Today