Topics: Cinema of Japan, Film, Movie theater Pages: 8 (1017 words) Published: January 5, 2013

Learning Objectives:
Japanese Cinema: Its Stakeholders
Lecturer: Yow Chong Lee Email:
• To illustrate the effects of the interplay (interference) of the state and the capitalist system on Japanese film industry. • To explain the causes and effects of such interferences: – The ways films are produced, distributed and exhibited – Type of films allowed, – Regulation and censorship,

The Arrival of Sound Cinema in Japan
• Sound cinema arrived comparatively late in Japan. WHY? • 1st sound film: Heinosuke Gosho’s My Neighbour’s Wife & Mine (1931). The Only Son (1936)

The WWII and Its Effects on Japanese Cinema
• Japanese government hooped on expansionist project in the 1930s – 40s. • The film industry was unavoidably put under surveillance by the government & the military. • A law was enacted to harness films as propaganda tool.

• Even Ozu resisted using sound until 1936.

The Do and Don’t: During WWII
Restriction on Film Industry

The Two Most Popular Genres (since 1920s)
Why NO Jidai-geki films?

Japanese Genres




Films about contemporary life

Patriotic Films & Safe genres

Jidai-geki Film (esp. Chambara films)

Period Films

Ex: Chambara films

Ex: Shomingeki



Major Japanese Film Companies & Their Focus
Film Companies
Shochik u

Japanese Cinema: Tradition of Boom & Bust

Toho ShinToho
Military subjects laden with ultra conservative overtune s

Many film companies (studios) closed/ went bankrupt (in 60s)




In 1950s - Golden Age of Business Prosperity

Taiyozoku (suntribe)

Art-films (Rashomo n& Ugetsu) & seiten (sex series) for teenagers

Make melodra ma (shomingeki) to aim at female audience

Adapt Jidai-geki to suit children & teenagers

Comedy series to target whitecollar market

Theatres tripled to the prewar no. (to ≈ 7400 cinemas)

Theatres were reduced to 2000 (in 80s)

Peak production ≈ 550 films/year

No. of films shrunk to ≈ 300 (in 80s)

The Challenges for the Film Industry (Production)
Advent of new technology (TV, Video Cassette, DVD, internet)


Changing of Direction


Poor Management

After the Bust: Changing of Direction (Production)
• Work independently w/o assistance of studio • Raise fund via Art Theatre Guild (ATG) • Outmoded theme • Expensive (set, costume, props) • Rapid changes of rural landscape

Changing of Direction: New Kind of Diversification
Tourist spots

Artistic Bent Director s

Jidaigeki OUT!
Different Genre

“Taisaku -Shugi” • Betting on blockbuster (risky) • Ex: Reproduce chambara films (after 18 years)

Building shopping on the site of studios
• Yakuza (by Toei) • Sci-fi (by Toho) • Tora-san series (by Shochiku)

Turning studios into tourist spots (Toei)

Shopping malls Other kind of enterta inment

Turning theatres into live stage revues



Changing of Direction: The Involvement of Independent Production Companies Films Production in Japan (1980s) Studios
40% 60%

Independent Production Companies
• Usually linked to “small capital”. • But, recent trend shows that, they are mostly huge enterprises involving in: – TV broadcast (Fuji TV), – Publishing (Kadokawa Publishing Company), – Department stores, hotels, and even railways (Tokyu Group & Seibu Saison Group)

Independent Production Companies

Ex: Seibu Saison Group & Its Film Business
• Build cinemas, ex: Cine Vivant & Cine Saison

Changing of Direction: Working with Studios (Production)
• Most big consortium of investors will corporate with studios.

• Distribute Foreign Films


• Sensitive toward market • Capturing teenagers since young adults are deserting Production theatres – Sci-fi films

Studios have readily established distribution& Exhibition network

No anti-cartel law in...
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