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Home video still king, but market down. Some 'windows' show good pictures.

Home Video Still King, But Market Down.

Recently, Tad Omiya, president of Tokyo-based Trans World Associates, Inc. reviewed Japan's film and TV landscape for Video Age.

Japanese windows for a motion picture start with a theatrical release followed, six month later, by home video then, after another six months, by satellite and, one year later, free TV, cable TV and pay-TV.

Usually, home video rights are licensed for a period of five years. Both rentals and sell-throughs are popular, if only with a market that is now in a "slump".

Nowadays, only good titles and "sleepers" that perform well in theaters have a chance to make it into home video stores.

Considering that only 10 per cent of theatrical releases will make money, it is said that one can only pray for a decent pick.

All considered, home video still represents the biggest chunk of the distribution business, and is now more than ever an all-rights proposition.

Home video deals consist usually of advances that can vary from an equivalent of $70,000 to $130,000 per title, plus a 20 per cent royalty fee.

Imports from independents are purchased at prices that vary from $30,000 to $40,000 per title for all rights and for a seven-year period. Importers, such as Trans World Associates, pay for the subtitles, which cost about $8,000 per movie, and for 15 to 30 prints at $2,000 each.

A 30-screen opening is considered a good run for an independent movie.

In Japan there are about 1,900 screens nationwide, showing 60 per cent Japanese movies and the rest imports, mainly from the U.S.

Japanese distributors are also required to pay for promotion, which, if it includes TV spots, can run in the order of $250,000 per release. Usually, promotion runs its course in a week period. A four-week engagement is considered good. Financial arrangements with exhibitors are a standard 50-50 deal on ticket sales at 1,600 [Yen] per ticket. The 10 per cent government tax on movie tickets gives a built-in accountability on the total receipts.

Even though the theatrical window represents a big risk, it also offers the only opportunity to pump-up sales for subsequent windows, since it generates the only form of publicity.

Like the home video companies, the TV networks will seriously consider buying a title if only it has some recognition value. Once the TV network is buying a title, it is required to pay for its dubbing.

Thus, a title uses subtitles for theatrical releases, home video and pay-TV, while it requires dubbing for basic cable and free TV. Television syndication is similar to that of the U.S. Here, Japanese distributors visit some 105 independent TV stations nationwide. In the nation there are also five major commercial TV networks, two government-owned TV networks - which manage two satellite TV services - one operating pay-TV service, seven basic TV services received on cable or via DBS and now an additional satellite network soon to become a pay-TV service. Two cable systems also operate English-language channels.
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Title Annotation:Video Age in Japan; includes related article: Japan's four-year boom seems over
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Previous Article:Japanese pay-TV is fun to be reckoned with.
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