TOKYO — Japan’s presale market for independent films remains mostly in the grip of the three major players — Gaga Communications, Asmik Ace Entertainment and Amuse Pictures, with Nippon Herald and Shochiku completing the field.
Between them they distribute the bulk of the indie product from overseas with stronger B.O. potential, leaving smaller niche pics to companies with fewer financial reserves. These distribs also wield the clout to arrange for wider releases.
“We choose pictures based on a detailed analysis of the potential in the Japanese market, where the script, the director and the cast are main elements,” says Nick Marumo, Gaga’s prexy and chief operations officer. Gaga’s sophisticated data analyses and simulation systems (since April also available to outsiders), help buyers make more educated decisions.
Databases notwithstanding, no surefire rule exists in assessing the Japanese market potential for any film. If recent trends are anything to go by, war and action pics don’t do as well as dramas. Witness the enormous success of “I Am Sam” (Shochiku) last year and the recent breakout of “The Pianist” (Amuse Pictures), which surprised even industry insiders.
Some Japanese distributors are also public companies and under intense pressure to find hit product before their competition does. Electronics giant Toshiba recently acquired Amuse Pictures, only intensifying competition in the local presales market.