Ambitious building plans are intended to cement Ikebukuro and the surrounding Toshima district of Tokyo firmly at the center of the Japanese film industry.
Plans unveiled Wednesday at TIFFCOM, part of the Tokyo International Film Festival, include the construction of two new complexes, housing 22 movie screens in total. The are expected to be completed in 2020, ahead of the Olympic Games which will be held throughout Japanese capital in Summer.
The plans were unveiled by Yukio Takano, mayor of Toshima, and Yasushi Shiina, head of TIFFCOM. Takano called them a blueprint for “Culture City of East Asia 2019 Toshima.”
The Grand Cinema Sunshine will include 12 screens, 2,500 seats and all-laser projection. A culture center, called Hareza, will be built in Ikebukuro, with a further 10 screens. Hareza will include multiple halls and stages for musicals, performing arts and anime.
The new facilities are intended to be used year-round by local residents and visiting tourists, as well as hosting the Japan Content Showcase and Tokyo Anime Festival Awards. The cinema screens could potentially be available to TIFFCOM’s international film buyers and sellers.
But Shiina said that the market will not move from its current location at Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City Convention Center in the next two years.
The Sunshine City venue, first used by TIFFCOM in 2017, is unpopular with many executives, who have criticized it for its low ceilings, high noise level, lack of daylight, and split-level exhibition halls. Foreign visitors also criticize the nearby Prince Hotel for its cramped conditions.
The plans include the greening of the Toshima district through the creation of four new parks, with a 30,000 m2 area, which will play host to cultural events on weekends and public holidays. They will be connected to the center of Ikebukuro by a new electric bus service.
Roberto Stabile, head of Italy’s film promotion organization ANICA was also on hand at the launch event. He said that he will return to Ikebukuro in early 2019 to sign letter of cooperation between Anica, Toshima and Japanese film agency UniJapan. Stabile said that Italy and Japan are also working towards the establishment of a bilateral film co-production treaty, but he offered no timetable for its completion.