During the westernization of Japan, more Japanese filmgoers prefer foreign films–particularly Hollywood films–over Japanese cinema. However, just recently, Japan is now turning the table on Hollywood as more Japanese moviegoers are choosing their home-grown cinema.
Last year, 14 out of the top 20 box office films that were released in Japan were produced locally by independent film industries while six were from Hollywood or subsidiaries of Hollywood such as Warner Bros Japan. So what are the underlying reasons to the current change of heart recently?
Hollywood films which are considered “safe options” or those movies that are guaranteed to make a box office hit make a killing out of their special effects. Some of these films include The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman. However, special effects quickly get old as time flies by. Furthermore, “safe option” films are also dwindling. Hollywood is scavenging for more “safe option” materials such as the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Aside from the fact that Hollywood is saturated with films filled with special effects, more superhero action movies have been recently adapted from superheroes of the Marvel Comics series which begs the question “where have all the contents gone?” Very few Hollywood movies nowadays are able to strike a balance between having a distinctive concept, good content and really good special effects such as the film Titanic–raking over 26.2 billion yen in Japan.
Partnerships forged between film distributors and TV networks in Japan facilitated the promotion of more Japanese films. Furthermore, producers are also able to come up with more concepts that are adjusted to the taste of the viewers as the film industry also makes adaptations of TV programs into the cinema. As television networks become more involved in the creation of the film industry, the costs of having a cutting-edge production also reduce the possibility to create more historical drama films and science-fiction based movies to some extent.
Although, if more foreign films such as Les Miserables or Life of Pi were shown in Japan, then potentially more Japanese moviegoers may be persuaded into watching more foreign films.