Box office in Japan declines


It seems to me I have not written anything about Japan in the last few months…so here goes: The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan revealed that in 2011 Japanese box-office revenue fell 17.9 percent to 181.2 billion yen (US$2.338 billion) compared to 220.7 billion yen (US$2.849 billion) in 2010. Attendance during the year also dropped 17 percent to 144.7 million tickets sold.

According to Anime News Network, the number of screens in Japan dropped for the first time in 18 years from 3,412 screens to 3,339 screens due to the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011.

Major Cineplex Woos Corporate Guests

Major Cineplex Group, Thailand's largest cinema and entertainment company, has taken a proactive strategy to attract corporate customers into its cinemas and bowling alleys to host corporate marketing and internal staff events. The move is one of the group's key mechanisms to increase return on investment on its high-value assets.

Chate Mungkhalodom, chief media officer, said the group's bowling business had not seen any growth for three or four years, as it is challenged by other entertainment alternatives and a lack of effective marketing communication and public relations.

"We closed our non-performing 30-lane bowling alley at Piyarom Sports Club at the end of last year. This month we will close another 26 lanes at Central Plaza Rama 3," he revealed.
Mungkhalodom has been in charge of the group's corporate sales event department since March 2011 and now aims to make the seven-year-old business more profitable. The department achieved approximately US$4.8 million in revenue from hosting corporate events at its cinemas and bowling alleys last year and hopes to generate $6.3 million this year.

The Major Cineplex exec said the average price at its bowling alleys had dropped significantly from between US$2.50 and $2.85 per game about three years ago to $1.90 to $2.20.

He also noted that the group's revenue from its cinema business fluctuates depending on its film line-up during particular periods. However, average occupancy at its cinemas was about 40 percent for the full year period.

"What we want to do strategically is to fill our vacant cinemas and bowling alleys with alternative content, such as corporate events, to boost the return on investment from those valuable assets."

Major Cineplex Group has a strong number of cinemas and bowling alleys in many locations throughout Bangkok and major provinces, Mungkhalodom stated. The group has more than 400 cinemas in 54 locations as well as 380 bowling lanes in 26 locations.

Mungkhalodom, who is also responsible for sales of cinema advertising both inside and outside the theatres, said revenue from that source should increase from $4.8 million in the first quarter of 2012 to $6.5 million in the second quarter.

Thai Production Continues to Grow

Last month, we published stats from production shots in Thailand for the first quarter 2012. But new stats just came out for the period through May 2012, and they are simply amazing.
Maybe it’s because of the outbound roadshow pace of the Thailand Film Office’s Department of Tourism since the beginning of 2012, but the first five months of 2012 has shown a 17.5% increase over entire Film Office revenue for 2011.

Revenue from all foreign productions, feature films, TV series, documentaries, commercials (advertising) and music-videos in 2011 amounted to US$ 39.6 million. For the five-month period from January to May 2012, revenue from foreign productions has amounted to $46.5 million. Productions from Japan (59), India (50) and Europe (48) led the way through the period.

Most encouraging, however, were visits to the Thailand booth at the recent Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Locations Show in Los Angeles (June 15-16), where the first day of the two-day event saw producer after producer talk with Thailand Film Office staff regarding bringing their productions to Thailand in late 2012–13.

AFCI announced over 2,500 visitors to the 200-plus exhibitor show, including some 170 film commissions from over 40 countries.

Among those foreign productions committing to film in Thailand later in 2012-13 were several food-oriented TV series and documentaries, a major Hollywood studio feature film, and one or two independent martial-arts films. It was also leaked that Oliver Stone's long awaited production of Pinkville, about the Vietnam War My Lai massacre, will be filmed in Thailand in 2013.

Kuala Lumpur Plans New Fest
Back in May, on the beaches during the Cannes Film Festival, Malaysia's National Film Development Corp (Finas) announced a new film festival in Kuala Lumpur scheduled for Nov. 10-18.

Malaysia, a largely Islamic country with rigid censorship laws, is not known as a nexus of the movie industry, and Kuala Lumpur isn't generally on the calendar for film festival-goers.
"That will change," said Finas director general Mohd Naguib Razak. "Thailand should take heed, and maybe tremble."

Malaysia is determined to pull this one off with a bang. For a start, Finas has entrusted the right people to oversee the preparation of the festival that will focus on Southeast Asian cinema alongside a showcase of films from around the world. The festival is co-chaired by Naguib Razak and Lorna Tee, a well-known Malaysian producer.

The artistic director of the festival is Dennis Lim, a Malaysian-born, U.S.-based film critic and lecturer who frequently writes for The New York Times and teaches at New York University.

These names have already instilled confidence in the fest, although the organizers have state censorship to contend with as the list of "sensitive subjects" considered by the Malaysian censors is famously long and includes topics from politics to homosexuality.

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