Thursday, 9 April 2009

Selling American Movies to Japan

Did I mention this before? Oh boy, that's an inauspicious way to start a blog post. Anyway, I read an article about Japan that pointed to the shifting balance in Japanese cultural consumption as an indicator in Japan's overall global output. Since the second world war, Japan has consumed more American music than Japanese music and certainly more American movies than Japanese ones. However, in recent years this trend has reversed, and now Japan buys vastly more Japanese music and Japanese movies even outperformed American movies at the box office last year. That article points to these things as an indicator that Japan is losing its interest in the outside world, including the hilariously condescending aside that it CAN'T be because of the quality, since Japanese pop music is so bad. Ah. What a dick. Way to make me completely disregard the rest of your article.

Anyway, Japan may be looking inwards more and more, I would argue not to the extent that that author believes and certainly no more than anyone would expect considering the global economic shenanigans, but it is no bad thing at all for Japan's movie industry to be establishing itself. And people like that should just be banned from writing about pop music until they understand why people buy pop music in the first place.

I thought this was really interesting when I was looking for a DVD in GEO the other day, Mike Judge's Idiocracy:

But the Japanese title isn't Idiocracy, it's a pun on 26th Century Boys. Why is that? Because they might increase rentals or sales by grabbing onto the coat tails of 20th Century Boys:

A hugely succesful recent Manga adaptation. It's not like Idiocracy is some huge blockbuster that has been brought low, having to scrabble pathetically for recognition here - it's a cultish flick that's probably a really difficuly sell to Japanese viewers however they do it. But it is interesting to see a Western Movie advertised in this way.


  1. I think Miyazaki is singlehandedly responsible for most of the Japanese movie box office. Ponyo was released last year.


  2. Actually I retract that now that I've read the article. I'll attribute it at least partially to the new Hollywood obsession with superheroes, none of which have ever been particularly popular in Japan. For instance, I remember looking up the global box office for The Dark Knight. It rivaled Titanic in the USA, but was practically a bomb in Japan in comparison.