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The success of Japanese films in the US will likely boost the foreign strategy of Japanese companies; Film exports increased by 600% in ten years


Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A poster for “Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka” (“The Boy and the Heron”) goes on display in January in Torrance, California.

The success of the Japanese films “Godzilla Minus One” and “Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka” (“The Boy and the Heron”) in the United States, and their Oscar wins, are likely to further push the Japanese film industry towards an international pushing strategy.

Toho Co., which produced and distributed the Godzilla movie, formed subsidiary Toho Global Inc. last July. to monitor foreign activities. Toho Global has partnered with a marketing subsidiary in Los Angeles to exchange information and plan projects in the United States.

The release of “Godzilla Minus One” in the United States was the first of a series of projects by Toho Global, and the Toho group was solely responsible for distribution, which had previously been left to a local company. “This move allows us to work smoothly on the local release of films,” a Toho official said.

According to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan Inc. the export of films abroad through distribution and exhibition rights has grown steadily since 2013.

Exports increased only marginally in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But they grew 13% year over year to about $480 million last year, about seven times more than 2013’s $65 million.

The association believes that sales of Japanese films, especially animated films, have been boosted by strong foreign distribution. It was also said that animated films such as “Suzume no Tojimari” (“Suzume”) and “The First Slam Dunk” did well at the box office in 2023.


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The Yomiuri Shimbun
Cinema attendance in Japan and film exports

“The Japanese film industry has failed to meet its target of 200 million moviegoers per year in Japan,” said Shogo Tomiyama, 72, chairman of the Japan Institute of the Moving Image.

This impasse has led to an urgent need to develop overseas markets. The shift in focus “will likely become even more pronounced in the future,” Tomiyama said.

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