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Film industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Japan is one of the largest film markets in the world. The country is home to a high number of affluent consumers, as well as a highly developed media economy that can produce entertaining content and distribute it to audiences around the world. The film business can be divided into three stages: production, distribution, and exhibition. In Japan, it is not uncommon for one company to handle all three stages. Filmmaking in Japan has largely been dominated by the “Big Four” film companies, Toho, Shochiku, Toei, and Kadokawa, which are also involved in the three segments. More than one thousand movies were released to Japanese theaters in 2020, with almost half of them being Japanese productions.

Movie theaters in Japan

Watching movies at theaters is a popular pastime in Japan. Historically, the 1950s are usually regarded as the golden age of Japanese cinema, with works such as Akira Kurosawa's “Seven Samurai” and Yasujiro Ozu's “Tokyo Story” being released during this time and the most successful years seeing more than one billion annual admissions to theaters. The lowest number of visitors in the decades since then were recorded during the 1990s, as the country entered a prolonged recession, which saw admissions fall to less than 120 million in 1996 before recovering significantly in the 2000s. While other forms of entertainment, such as streaming services, have increased the competition for audience attention in recent years, the release of hit titles such as Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” in 2016 and “Weathering With You” in 2019 resulted in the annual number of admissions reaching record highs that were not seen since the early 1970s. This development exerted a positive influence on box office revenues, which soared to more than 261 billion Japanese yen in 2019 before falling to about 143 billion yen in 2020 due to the advent of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This decline would have been even more severe had it not been for the release of “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train”, which became the most successful Japanese movie to date.

Economic and social factors

Next to the release of hit movies, many of which are produced by Japan’s booming anime industry, the high popularity of movie theaters before the COVID-19 pandemic can be explained by several factors. The tight labor market has recently resulted in higher wages for younger workers, enabling them to spend more money on leisure activities. Moreover, the increasing number of single households has led to a growing number of theater visitors, as young people in many cases seem to prefer sharing the experience of film watching with friends and family at dedicated venues instead of staying home alone. Another factor influencing film consumption positively is the intensive use of social media, which serve as platforms where businesses can promote movies and consumers can rate and discuss them.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Film industry in Japan".


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