Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Japanese Cinema Appealing to a Broader Audience in Southeast Asia
KONOMI Masafumi  / Senior Project Manager, Film and Broadcast Media Dept., The Japan Foundation

December 11, 2018
Your Name was a blockbuster that took Japanese society by storm in 2016, grossing approximately 25 billion yen at the box office. It also enjoyed extraordinary success in Southeast Asia, raking in total global revenues of roughly 40 billion yen and breathing new life into the Japanese movie industry.

Annual box office revenues for Japanese films reached a record high of 235.5 billion yen in 2016, up 8.5 percent from the previous year. The number of moviegoers also surged to 180 million, breaking the record for the first time in 42 years. On the other hand, revenues from exported Japanese films were about 16.2 billion yen and remained considerably small compared with revenues in the home market.

Generally speaking, Japanese contents are highly popular in Southeast Asia, but the genres making significant inroads have been limited to anime – as mentioned above – and specific contents broadcast on TV, while live action movies have hardly made an impact. This is conceivably due to the absolutely small number of Japanese films being distributed in the Southeast Asian market, which is hardly adequate for stimulating interest in Japanese cinema and attracting moviegoers in the region.

Major factors limiting the release of Japanese films are the relationship between market size and revenue, as well as economic disparity between Japan and Southeast Asian countries. Normally, a local distributor will acquire the distribution rights for a film from the Japanese distributor and the film is shown in theaters with subtitles or as a voiceover version in the local language. These rights represent the most costly part of expenditures for a local distributor, and the high price demanded by the Japanese side makes it impossible to recoup the investment. Meanwhile, Japan is the world’s third largest movie market, and from the Japanese perspective, Southeast Asia is a relatively small market that offers limited earnings opportunities. In other words, the transaction makes no business sense,and this is the biggest factor that is preventing Japanese cinema from thriving in Southeast Asia.

However, rapid economic development in the ASEAN region has brought dramatic growth and change in the movie markets of Southeast Asian countries. In an industry where population size plays a significant role, Southeast Asia, with a total population of 650 million and an average age of 28.8 (compared with 46.5 in Japan), has become an attractive market with great potential. Vying to capture this market, giants in the movie industry, such as America and China, along with India and South Korea, are making aggressive advances into the region. At present, the United States dominates most of the markets with its Hollywood movies, while Japanese cinema has fallen far behind.

Against this backdrop, The Japan Foundation launched its JFF (Japanese Film Festival) Asia-Pacific Gateway Initiative in 2016. Aiming to stimulate overseas demand for Japanese films by way of culture, the project integrates the Japanese Film Festivals – cultural exchange events organized by the Foundation’s bases in each country – with the JFF Web Magazine, which provides information in multiple languages.

The project is currently being actively pursued in fifty cities in fourteen countries, including ten ASEAN countries, Australia, India, China and Russia, with total attendance reaching 140,000. This signifies a considerable overall increase of 75 percent compared with combined attendance for past Japanese Film Festivals held separately in each country. In particular, ASEAN countries have shown remarkable growth in attendance, rising by 193 percent in Indonesia, 91.5 percent in Thailand and 72 percent in Malaysia, while the first festival held in Myanmar received over 10,000 visitors.

A major factor behind this striking increase is the rise in the number of people who feel an affinity with Japan due to its popularity as a travel destination and heightened interest in learning Japanese spurred by anime and other contents. Indeed, survey results of JFF participants have shown that about 40 percent of all respondents – around fifty to sixty thousand people – have said that watching Japanese movies made them want to study Japanese, indicating that the JFF Initiative is steadily capturing a new target audience.

Moreover, this year’s program consisted mainly of new works in response to local requests, such as Chihayafuru: Musubi, which is popular among the younger generation, One Cut of the Dead, which became a social phenomenon in Japan, and Mary and The Witch's Flower – as opposed to films selected and imposed on by the Japanese side. In addition, a mechanism was devised to provide the films with proper subtitles in local languages and in the DCP (Digital Cinema Package) format suitable for commercial movie theaters.

These efforts have enhanced the appeal of Japanese cinema, leading to a steady increase in new fans. A great number of participants in each country have expressed the joy of watching the latest works and hit movies from Japan, and have requested that the program be continued.

As we maintain this JFF Initiative into the future, it may well grow into a brand and platform serving several million moviegoers. Such is the appeal of Japanese cinema.

Masafumi Konomi is Producer of the JFF (Japanese Film Festival) Asia-Pacific Gateway Initiative.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

許斐 雅文 / JFF(Japanese Film Festival)アジア・パシフィックゲートウェイ構想」のプロデューサー

2018年 12月 11日





その状況下、独立行政法人国際交流基金は、2016年より「JFF(Japanese Film Festival)アジア・パシフィックゲートウェイ構想」を開始した。同構想は、文化を通して、海外における日本映画市場の活性化を目的に、同基金の各国拠点が運営する日本映画祭(交流イベント)とJFFウェブマガジン(多言語での情報発信)を融合させた事業で、現在アセアン10カ国、豪州、インド、中国、ロシアの合計14か国50都市で積極的に展開し、総動員数は約14万人に達した。これは従来、各国が単独で独自に実施していた日本映画祭と比べ、全体で75%増の高い伸びを示しており、特にアセアン諸国の伸びは著しく、インドネシア193%、タイ91.5%、マレーシア72%と続き、ミャンマーでは初開催で1万人を突破した。

この著しい伸びは、現地の日本への旅行ブームやアニメなどによる日本語学習熱の高まりなどで、日本に親近感を抱く人が増えたことが大きな要因となっているが、実際にJFF参加者のアンケートでは、「日本映画を見て、日本語を勉強したくなった」と回答する人が全体の約40%(5~6万人)という結果が出ており、JFF構想が新たなターゲット層に確実に訴求できていることを示している。また、今年の上映作品では、若年層に人気の「ちはやふる-結び」や日本で社会現象にもなった「カメラを止めるな!」、そして「メアリと魔女の花」など、日本側で独自に選んだ押しつけ作品ではなく、新作を主に現地の声を反映させたプログラムを組んでおり、きちんとした現地語字幕で商業映画館に適したデジタル素材(DCP:Digital Cinema Package)を提供する仕組みを作ったことで、日本映画に対する魅力がより引きあげられ、新たなファンを着実に増やしている。各国の参加者からは「日本の新作や近年のヒット作品が見られて、本当にうれしい」と継続を望む声が多数寄せられている。


筆者はJFF(Japanese Film Festival)アジア・パシフィックゲートウェイ構想」のプロデューサー
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Japanese Cinema Appealing to a Broader Audience in Southeast Asia