Box office hits record high but film industry worried about

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Tokyo, Feb 10 (Kyodo) Record box-office receipts werelogged in Japan in 2010, a year marked by brisk business atmultiplexes that ran 3-D blockbusters, but industryofficials and experts are concerned about the future after aseries of closures of small, distinctive cinemas.

Movie producers expressed mixed emotions about theprospects of 3-D productions for the years ahead at a newsconference on Jan 27, where they announced record 2010 boxoffice receipts of around 220.74 billion yen.

"Too many 3-D films will end up tiring viewers,'''' saidHideyuki Takai, president of Toho Co, a major moviedistributor.

"3-D movies may help boost the box office but probablyonly for a few years," said Nobuyoshi Otani, president of theMotion Picture Producers Association of Japan. "

It will be a different picture if they become commonlyavailable."

The top three box office movies, far outpacing the rest,were all 3-D Hollywood productions released in the firstseveral months of the year --"Avatar," with 15.60 billion yen,"Alice in Wonderland," with 11.80 billion yen, and "Toy Story3," with 10.80 billion yen.

In the latter half of the year, passion for 3-D moviesappears to have waned among moviegoers with ''''Despicable Me''''generating only 1.2 billion yen.

While big-budget productions drew audiences, films withartistic qualitie were in a slump. Amid a growing number ofmultiplexes, aficionados who make a point to frequent theatersshowing artistic movies are getting rarer.

"The market has transformed to center on trendy films,"said Yasushi Shiina, senior managing director of KadokawaPictures Inc. "

People well-versed in movies are seen as ''otaku'' (nerds)and this perception is helping people shun movies."

There is a tendency even among young people to stay awayfrom movie theaters unless they notice a film is taken upwidely in blog or Twitter posts.

"What is sought after is movies that are easy tounderstand," said an employee at one distributor.

Takashi Nakagawa, the president of Toho Cinemas Ltd., thebiggest multiplex chain operator in Japan, also expressedconcern, saying, "Those movie fans who used to visit theatersseveral times a year are declining."

In 2010, Japanese productions also registered a recordcombined annual revenue but hit titles were animations, movieversions of popular TV dramas and those based on comic bookstories. (Kyodo)

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