Friday, September 24, 2010

Differentiating Japanese Space Battles with Teen Wizards

Movies are a universal tie amongst all countries, but the fact is, majority of the movies that make heaps of money across the sea are American made, not products of their own countries. The American studios have a monopoly on the international business of moviemaking. But I'm of the mind that this could all change if foreign studios took greater risks in releasing and marketing their movies in the Americas.

Let's compare two highly anticipated movies coming out this Holiday season, one an American studio production (WB), the other a Japanese studio production (Toho). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1 is the first half of the two-part finale to the whole Potter franchise, chronicling the final adventures of everyone's favorite teenage wizard.

Where as Space Battleship Yamato is a live-action version of one of the most popular Japanese anime of all-time, about the crew of a space battleship fighting to save humanity from annihilation.

Both are high concept movies that are highly anticipated by the audiences in which will consume them, but after this the differences begin to pile up.

While Yamato may be big in Japan, it wont have a reach outside Asian territories, where as Harry Potter will be big the world over, possibly giving Yamato a run for its money in its home country! All goes back to the almighty dollar, or yen. Potter has a $200 million+ budget, and Yamato only has a budget of 2.2 billion yen ($22 million). With such a hefty budget, Potter will have the money to market overseas, and the money to open in every foreign territory simultaneously, where as Yamato will be lucky to spread to Hong Kong cinemas by the end of this year. Now, both movies are high budget efforts from their respective countries, but isn't it sad that a $22 million budget is considered high in Japan?

I'll be honest, I wanna see both of these movies. I love Harry Potter and will be there at midnight, but I also think Space Battleship Yamato looks like a fantastic science fiction offering, and I think many other Americans might actually find it worth watching as well. Problem is, Toho doesn't have the money of WB. Reason is a combination of population and American snobbery. First, Japan's population is not as large as that of the U.S. On top of that, most Japanese-made movies don't make it as far as the Americas cause most Americans don't want to watch a subtitled movie, no matter how commercial its material may be. Thus, Japanese movies don't have the large international box office receipts that American movies swim in. What would it take to even the playing field?

If more foreign studios put money behind their movies and would release them simultaneously in American theaters, they could slowly condition American audiences to foreign, subtitled movies. The process would be slow, and could mean that at the initial phases, money will be lost, but in the long run it would condition Americans to the thought process that watching subtitled movies is just natural. If more Americans viewed foreign films, then the studios producing those movies will make more money, thus budgets would increase and other countries could join the blockbusting game. This could invigorate the international moviemaking market to where it's actually just that, international. What this would do, is give studios like Toho the money to play with, like WB, thus the world would be an even, equal level in terms of movies. This could all be wishful thinking, but I hate to miss out on stuff like Space Battleship Yamato cause it's not "American-made".

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