Books: While the manga TV animation-animated feature cycle has been a mainstay in Japan, Toho Studios' 2004 megahit Crying Out Love, In The Centre Of The World ($72.5m) sparked an increased dependence on novels as source material, with major publishers such as Kadokawa Publishing and Shueisha regularly joining production consortiums. Toho has remained faithful to its female-oriented fare, continuing with this September's Closed Note.
Bestsellers in various genres are being adapted as major movies. Veteran publisher Bungei Shunju's thriller Midnight Eagle led to a big-budget consortium formed by Universal Pictures Japan and distributor Shochiku, with the movie slated for a winter release.
Marketing has become more savvy: major bookstore chains often install prominent video displays showing trailers to tie in film adaptations with the original novels, hoping to attract book-shy, younger consumers. Conversely, Tsutaya, Japan's largest video and music rental chain with 1,300 stores and 20 million members, sells paperbacks to tie in with major video releases such as 2006 hit The Letter.
Television: TV drama is extremely popular in Japan, and is a common source of material for feature producers.
Japan's six major TV networks regularly enjoy audiences of more than 20% of Japan's 49 million households, giving them an incredible amount of clout. Unlike major broadcasters in the US, Japanese networks invest aggressively in movies, based on their own shows and on other properties. The three biggest players, Fuji TV, TBS and NTV produce head to head with traditional studios Toei, Toho and Shochiku. However, the studios still control Japan's screens and partner with the networks as distributors.
Fuji TV was the first major to enter feature production with titles such as 1983's Antarctica (remade in Hollywood last year as Eight Below), which at the time was a means to combat expensive broadcast rights for Hollywood films. Fuji has gone on to produce hit movies based on in-house shows, such as the Bayside Shakedown and Umizaru films, and more recently Monkey Magic and the upcoming Hero.
Networks also invest in non-TV properties as well, with successes such as NTV/Warner's Death Note films ($70m) and TBS's hit remake Sinking Of Japan ($46.8m).
In a recent twist, independent cable, satellite and UHF channels have begun investing in films. Mirroring the problem of the early 1980s, homegrown hits are becoming too pricey for independent stations. This prompted Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting Corp to invest in Fuji TV's upcoming ice hockey movie, Smilers.