Mononoke aftermath

Eija Margit Niskanen eija
Sat Jan 15 20:04:29 EST 2000

Isn't this what happened with Kitanos' -Sonatine- as well? Miramax bought
the U.S. rights, and then held it for years on their shelves? 

At 04:15 PM 1/15/00 -0500, you wrote:
>More on PRINCESS MONONOKE:  intrigued all the more by the preview on the
>official website and as a big fan of Jo Hisaishi, I emailed our local
>(Rochester, NY) art theater about the possibilities of the film opening
>here. The response was that they really wanted it, having just seen it at
>the Toronto festival, but were not yet eligible because of Miramax's (to
>me unfathomable) "wait and see policy." Apparently, if I remember
>correctly, even as the "World's Image Centre" (sic), Rochester is
>somewhere around the 7th tier in terms of market size (we are, after all,
>upstate--the "other"-- New York). But, our art theater came
>through and the film opened here on or right before Thanksgiving and was
>held over by demand at least until Christmas, which is when I lost track.
>Locally it was well-received (in the local paper, an "8" out of "10",
>where it was referred to as an "appealing animated fable, from Japan's
>Disney." I found it odd that Mononoke and Pokemon sort of hit the fan at
>the same time in the US, resulting in a few surreal moments as mention of
>the one, it seemed, couldn't be mentioned without mention of the other--
>another unfortunate result, I think, of the "wait and see" release policy.
>Pikachu might even have overshadowed the Princess--by the time the film 
>got its requisite full-page color ad in the NY TImes, Pikachu had
>already turned up in a couple of New Yorker cartoons and, almost
>inevitably, on the November 1 issue's cover (trick-or-treating a big
>bag of cash--crass Pokemon commercialism as the latest Christmas toy craze
>was already an issue). Incidentally, It was the week of Oct 30 that the TV
>Guide issued with four separate covers (4 different Pokemon characters), a
>bizarre kind of tie-in to the collectable craze. (I got Pikachu and, from
>a well-meaning friend, Charmander--anyone want to trade?)
>My point is, I don't think anyone knew what to make of it all--everything
>animated from Japan was getting lumped together, as somewhere in the midst
>of the commercial mayhem a small scandal erupted involving an irate parent
>demanding that DRAGON BALL Z manga be pulled from the shelves of Toys R Us
>(some confusion over target age groups). I had a long phone conversation
>with a journalist from the Dallas Morning News, who was trying to make
>sense of all these anime in the spotlight by weaving some kind of
>"cultural differences" fable where I thought the real problem was plain,
>painfully ill-informed marketing. Like David, I also missed any "serious"
>critical attention paid to MONONOKE, if there was indeed any. And I heard
>not a single hint of the likes of Amino Yoshihiko. The "history" of the
>movie was glossed over tremendously in everything I read. In the Chicago
>Sun-Times, apparently (I'm going by a reprint used as PR at our local
>theater), Roger Ebert placed the film "in medieval Japan, at the dawn of
>the Iron Age, when some men still lived in harmony with nature and others
>were trying to tame and defeat it."  It was a sentence I had to read a few
>times myself to try to figure out where it was coming from. It all went by
>in a blur of "Japanese is Japanese is Japanese."
>I hinted at and got the two books Aaron mentioned for Christmas, but
>haven't really checked them out well enough to comment. The MONONOKE book
>is beautiful, and I found (I have looked at the pictures) the copious
>illustrations--both from the film and Miyazaki's layout
>drawings--extremely informative. I was particularly interested in pp.
>38-39, which shows the evolution of the character of Ashitaka (possible
>variations). The book is reviewed in either the October or November issue
>of _Animerica_; the November issue of _Animerica_ features Pokemon, the
>December issue (vol.7) features MONONOKE--although that little yellow
>rascal Pikachu is in the upper left-hand corner of the cover over the
>blurb "Win a CD!") I think you can access excerpts at the magazine's
>website,, or you could try the website.
>The MONONOKE book is translated by Mark Schilling, and also features an
>introduction by him--maybe he'd like to say a word or two?
>Sorry for the length, but one last bit: HElen McCarthy also just came out
>with (written together with Jonathan Clements) _The Erotic Anime Movie
>Guide_, Overlook Press, 1999 US version (UK 1998)ISBN 0-87951-705-0. The
>format appears similar to her earlier _The Anime Movie Guide_ (US 1997).
>Joanne Bernardi
>U of Rochester
>On Sat, 15 Jan 2000, David Desser wrote:
>> My response to Aaron's query about the release pattern of PRINCESS MONONOKE
>> is:  I told you so.  See my post a few weeks back about Miramax's
>> deliberate mishandling of the film.  A couple of people slammed me for my
>> opinion at the time, but time has since told the tale.  A film which opens
>> to good discussion initially must be released reasonably quickly thereafter
>> to take advantage of whatever hype has been generated.  Failing to release
>> MONONOKE within a few weeks of its showing in the US's major cities was
>> guaranteed to drain the film of any glamor and thus any hope of significant
>> box-office.  It never opened wide here or even very much outside of a dozen
>> or so major cities. (One theatre in Chicago; a couple of theatres in
>> Philadelphia and its suburbs--Art Theatres, by the way in Philadelphia/New
>> Jersey.)
>> I have seen neither of the two books Aaron mentions, though I am a regular
>> habitue of bookstores, including a recent visit to Tower Books in
>> Philadelphia, which specializes in film and media-related works. Helen
>> McCarthy has become something of a "pop" expert in anime with at least two
>> previous books on the subject, so it's not surprising to see her publish a
>> >Hayao Miyazaki : Master of Japanese Animation : Films, Themes, Artistry
>> >by Helen McCarthy
>> >Paperback - 220 pages (September 1999)
>> >Stone Bridge Press; ISBN: 1880656418
>> >
>> >The Princess Mononoke : The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular Film
>> >of All Time
>> >Hardcover (October 1, 1999)
>> >Talk Miramax Books; ISBN: 0786866098
>> >
>> >Any comments on these?  Anyone see any articles they liked?  Can anyone
>> >talk about the themes, shape, and nature of the discourse on Miyazaki?
>> >
>> >Just curious...
>> >
>> >Aaron Gerow
>> >Yokohama National University
>> >KineJapan list owner
>> >For list commands: send "information kinejapan" to
>> >listserver at
>> >Kinema Club:

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