Sustained by the twin engines of multiplex growth and the popularity of anime titles, Japan's film industry has enjoyed a three-year period of growth, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
Total revenues from film production and distribution and video sales have risen 5.7%, from $4.2bn in 1998 to $4.5bn in 2001. In the same period, earnings from film production alone jumped 59%, from $648m in 1998 to $1bn last year.
Boosted by anime films, the theatrical box office of Japanese titles rose more than threefold, from $103m in 1998 to $325m in 2001, while revenues from local video film sales, and especially DVD titles, increased 53.5%, from $87.2m to $133.9m.
The number of cinema screens soared 43.3% from 1997 to 2001, reaching 2311, while total exhibition revenues jumped 32.9% to $1.7bn over the same period. In addition, cinema admissions enjoyed a 32.9% rise, to 131.5 million in 2001.
Most of the 676-screen gain came from multiplex construction, particularly in suburban shopping centres, attracting a wider range of fans, with a significant rise in audience numbers from housewives and the elderly.