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Japanese honchos mull biz malaise

Panelists agree attendance increase won't save industry

TOKYO — The slump of film distribution in Japan, with dwindling audiences and multiplying screens, was discussed by a who’s-who of distribbers and exhibbers at the opening panel of the three-day Tokyo Film Creators’ Forum.

Although this summer showed a 150% increase in cinema attendance, mostly due to local animation “Spirited Away” and Hollywood blockbusters “A.I.” and “Pearl Harbor,” panelists agreed this would not save the industry.

“Honestly, before this summer we weren’t sure whether we could keep up,” said Tsutomo Otsuka, managing director of local exhibitor Korona Corp., which operates 87 screens.

The general weakness of Japanese films abroad and at home is another of the forum’s big topics. “Other panels like this concentrate on international exchanges. We here want to give young Japanese filmmakers a chance to understand better what has to be done to succeed at home,” explained forum organizer Takashi Nishimura.

The forum, held during the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival (Oct. 27 to Nov. 4), culminates in a small market today presenting three Japanese, one Sri Lankan and one Taiwanese project to potential investors.

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