1998 at the BO

Ono Seiko and Aaron Gerow onogerow
Tue Jan 26 02:28:51 EST 1999

The Nihon Eiga Seisakusha Renmei released its report on the state of the 
film industry in 1998.  According to their figures, attendance at 
theaters rose 8.8% over the year before to reach 153,102,000, the second 
yearly increase in a row and the highest level in 12 years.  The total 
distribution income also rose 11.3% to 87.3 billion yen, the highest 
level in history.  Analysts point to the success of _Titanic_, the 
increase in young viewers, the spread of multiplexes, and the economy 
(which makes cinema a cheaper alternative) as factors behind the good 
news at the box office.  Nine Japanese films topped one billion yen at 
the box office (including _Odoro daisosasen_, _Pocket Monsters_, and 

My question, however, is how much of this is filtering down to non-major 
producers.  I had a chat with the president of one independent 
production/distribution company last week and he was not exactly 
ecstatic.  Business wasn't bad, but the main problem he cited was the 
collapse in the last year or two of the video business.  With the rise of 
major chains and the decrease in small rental shops, rental companies are 
buying less videos and the videos they buy are increasingly only major 
releases.  Video companies like KSS and Gaga, which have supported a lot 
of young directors, have had to cut down on production.  Satellite TV, 
which was being hailed as a possible revenue source, doesn't seem to be 
living up to expectations.

Any comments or inside info?

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
KineJapan list owner
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