Japanese Film Makers Frustration

Discussion in 'Asian Horror and Other Pleasures' started by Deaddevilman, Dec 7, 2003.

  1. Deaddevilman

    Deaddevilman Guest

    Japanese independent movie producer Takashige Ichise, whose films such as "Ringu," "Dark Water" and "Ju-on: The Grudge" have or will be soon remade by Hollywood had this interesting comment.

    " It's a shame that more Japanese films are not seen abroad. The problem is the budgets are not so big in Japan. So unless you spend the appropriate amount, the films just won't appeal to foreign markets."

    It's a shame that the Hollywood studios just don't spend a pretty penny on a good marketing campaign and release the original.
     
  2. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

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    I don't think that's right at all. The trouble is, they would need to make these films in english. I just don't see a mainstream audience going to see a movie with subtitles. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't bother me, but I honestly don't think wider distribution will happen without an english language track.
     
  3. Deaddevilman

    Deaddevilman Guest

    Shall We Dance did quite well in the US with subtitles. I do agree that it's tougher to get a mass audience to set down and actually read, but I think with the right film it can be done. Azumi was specifically made with the foreign market in mind, but I have yet to hear of anyone picking it up and sense the DVD is coming out in Japan later this month with English subtitles it will probably never get a major release.
     
  4. Deaddevilman

    Deaddevilman Guest

    Recently the following question was asked to several Japanese... below are their responses.

    Why aren't Japanese movies big hits around the world?

    "Foreign movies are a business. They are made to make money. Japanese movies, on the other hand, are cultural, made to inspire audiences on topics recommended by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Japanese are conditioned to accept only certain things. It's in our DNA. Times might have changed, but we still choose to watch the same kinds of films. Also, we don't watch movies as much as we used to because there are fewer theaters and it is an expensive form of entertainment. There should be more special days like Wednesday's ladies day and the 1st of every month's movie day. Another reason why Japanese movies are not big overseas, I think, is because few Japanese companies are willing to invest in movie-making. They see it as a gamble. Of course, the quality of a movie doesn't depend on its budget, but that's the way it is. I don't see any improvement in the Japanese film industry, either from the producers' or audiences' standpoint."

    "Hollywood movie ads and reviews are always everywhere, so we know what's on and how popular a movie is. On the other hand, how much do Japanese movies spend on publicity? I was surprised when "The Matrix's" green lights were all over Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Tower, Shibuya Station and other places. It's not just advertising, but Japanese actors and actresses are not appealing. In Hollywood movies, characters will say "I love you," but I would crack up if a Japanese character said something like that in a movie."

    "Samurai movies are a Japanese staple, but who really enjoys watching them any longer? They are no good at all. Japanese are good at using ideas in PlayStation and Super Famicon but not in movies. Maybe "The Last Samurai" will rejuvenate the Japanese film industry with Tom Cruise's help."

    "It is difficult for foreign audiences to understand the Japanese aesthetic and our culture. Plus, they don't like reading subtitles. That is why Japanese movies don't become blockbusters abroad. Also, Japanese are no longer interested in the same old storylines like samurai dramas. New media like anime are very successful inside and outside Japan. If Japan wants to improve its film industry, they need to come up with new ideas and put more money into production. Japanese films are ranked low because we get what we pay for — cheap production budgets equal low quality films."

    "Often times, Japanese movies depict the dark and silent side of Japanese culture. For example, if cool Japanese stars like Yujiro Ishihara and Ken Takakura makes eye contact for some reason, how many foreigners are able to understand the deep meaning of such a scene? It is a cultural difference. Even if Japanese movies want to change to be more like American ones, they are still restricted by Japan's cultural history. There will always be limitations on what we can do and cannot do in some ways of artistic expression, such as movies, I suppose."

    "I don't watch many movies, so I cannot say exactly what is wrong with Japanese movies. However, even someone like me feels that Japanese computer graphic techniques are poorly used in films. Furthermore, Japanese actors and actresses have less name value in the world, which means fewer people are interested in watching their films."

    "I don't agree. I think Japanese movies are very capable of being big hits around the world. It's just taking time for them to make their mark. Just as Japanese baseball players took a long time to make their Major League debut, the old Japanese movie industry is still having difficulty seeing the new open door for world success. The movie industry should learn from the sporting world. In soccer, for example, Japan is raising the standard of its game because it is willing to play against foreign teams. Getting back to movies, Japanese think that anything that succeeds overseas must be worth seeing. If any Japanese films became popular worldwide, they would gain renewed popularity at home and we would appreciate them more."

    "Japanese movies are simply flat, have no power and don't stimulate us. Japanese movies are too peaceful; they can't even get fantasy stories right. I don't like them, and I don't think many others do either."
     
  5. TobalRox

    TobalRox Active Member

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    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as Iron Monkey were both released with subtitles.
     
  6. Numania

    Numania Guest

    Isn't this due to the success of Strictly Ballroom, though?

    Sure some stuff seems to do so-so (Tampopo is readily available on dvd, so I'm assuming...). Princess Mononoke did well with the Hollywood celebrity dub. Sure it's dubbed, but a Japanese film nonetheless. When I saw Les Yeux San Visage at a theater in Boston, they had a preview for Audition. Miike's films are getting huge and soon enough, the "cult" people will be large enough to get screenings in more theaters than before.

    I don't think subtitles are the problem. I think that most people are very tight in their perception of cinema (Hollywood or the few British romantic comedies with Hugh Grant) such that a Japanese film won't sit well. Japan is exporting a lot of horror or strange Yakuza movies. America can deal with mafia, but the Yakuza is a whole different animal. Most Americans aren't ready for it. Sure, there are cool, nice movies like Postman Blues (although it keeps a very low, solemn tone), Kikujiro, and almost anything put out by Itami Juzo, but these arrive without fanfare.

    I agree that promotion is part of the problem, however, the Japanese cannot blame the failure of their films in America on Hollywood. Their studios should do their own promotion. Plus, American culture, as mentioned above, is not ready for most Japanese cinema. We're known for liking shitty movies and hating great ones (generally that is). That is why great movies fall into obscurity and become "cult", so to speak. So many people here praise Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I would agree with them. Mainstream people will say it's scary, and leave it at that. They will not talk about the gritiness of the film or how it works into the cautionary tale about avoiding weirdos.


    Meh...I'm drunk...
     
  7. h8sh8

    h8sh8 Guest

    Totally agree. Look at Amelie and Crouching Tiger - there were plenty of ads for these on TV and people heard about them and therefore saw them - the last time I saw a trailer for a Japanese movie was... well... none I can remember - at least in Australia. Battle Royale got a cinema release here, I never saw a trailer - I saw one review on TV. I'd never heard it was nominated for 7 Japanese Oscars including Best Picture until the Aussie rental dvd came out (it says it on the front cover) - which was only in the last month or two.
     

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