More than the Average Movie Budget

The Asahi has a fun article in this morning's paper (December 10). As other media have reported, there's a little bit of a hubbub going on regarding how much Tokyo Prefecture spent on a 10-minute promotion video as part of its effort to become the host city for the summer Olympics.  This video, by the way, was only shown once as part of Tokyo's final presentation. This is also the prefectural government headed by Ishihara Shintaro, the right-wing politician, brother of the movie star Ishihara Yujiro, and the novelist whose book was turned into the movie Crazed Fruit

It's interesting because the article compares how much this video cost to how much the average movie costs in Japan. 

First, the 10-minute video, which was produced by Dentsu (the major ad agency in Japan), cost 500 million yen (or about $5.7 million) to make. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Filming and editing: 270 million yen
  • Computer graphics: 80 million yen
  • Producer and staff: 54 million yen
  • Extras: 25 million yen
  • Music and narration: 17 million yen

The media is taking this up as another example of the government wasting money, and so to emphasize this, the Asahi gives some comparative facts. First, a PR video of that length usually costs 20-30 million yen. Second, the average budget of the 407 Japanese theatrical films released in 2007 was 260 million yen (about $3 million). A film producer working at one of the major TV networks (which are now the producers of the major films made in Japan today) even commented that a big budget TV-produced theatrical film is usually only about 400 million yen (about $4.5 million). Third, the computer graphics budget for a feature film with lots of CG work is at best about 100 million yen. 

So the gist is that much more money was spent on a 10-minute video than on most of the major feature-length movies made in Japan. That says a lot about government waste, but it also reminds us how much the Japanese film world works on a shoe-string budget compared to Hollywood - and still makes great movies.

There's another comparison I would like to add: the amount that the Japan Foundation supposedly wasted -- and that so far has gotten much more publicity -- was only about $900,000. Waste is not good in either case, but will Ishihara get as much damage from this as the JF has? I doubt it.

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