2008 Industry Statistics

Some of you may have seen this elsewhere, but the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren) released their statistics for the film industry for 2008.

The results are great for Japanese film, but not so much for cinema as a whole. Total box office went down 2.8% to 195 billion yen, with attendance declining 2.7% to 160 million. Japanese films clobbered foreign films at the box office 59.5% to 40.5%, again taking the lead after winning in 2006 but losing in 2007. Japanese film has not had this kind of lead since 1970. The box office for Japanese films rose 22.4% from 2007 to 116 billion yen. The total number of films released slightly declined, but the number for Japanese films slightly increased (418 were released in 2008). The average ticket price declined by 2 yen to 1214 yen (what a savings!), while the number of screens continues to increase (to 3359).

15 Japanese films earned more than 20 billion yen at the BO, the same number as 2007 and 2006. Of the top 15 films, 11 were distributed by Toho, with Gake no ue no Ponyo, Hana yori dango Final, Yogisha X no kenshin, Pocket Monsters, and Aibo being the 5 to top 4 billion (all were distributed by Toho except for Aibo). The fact that business as a whole is not consistently growing, that the average BO per screen continues to decline, and that Toho retains its almost monopolistic dominance, continue to be signs for concern. Eiren also noted that sales for DVDs and videos went down about 10%. One wonders if most businesses are really making that much money.

But then again, Japanese cinema's take of 115 billion yen is the highest ever. When the shacho of Toho e-mailed me over the summer, he quipped that he hopes the Americans get their act together and become more competitive. When not just Ponyo but Hana yori dango for God's sake beats Indiana Jones and everything Hollywood has to offer, you can understand his confidence.

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