Japanese movie theater companies look to alternative offerings to fill houses

In Other News Japanese culture - October 8th, 2013

Japanese theater operators are struggling to fill cinemas as the conventional way of watching movies on the silver screen is losing its appeal in the digital age.

The decline in cinemagoers has prompted movie theaters to go where they’ve never been before—live concerts and broadway shows.

Aeon Entertainment Co’s 74 movie theaters across the country showed non-conventional films such as concerts, ballet and opera performances as well as live broadcasts of sports events.

The Aeon Cinema Kohoku New Town complex in Yokohama recently showed a live concert broadcast of the Southern All Stars, one of Japan’s longer-lived bands.

In the 2012 business year, Aeon Cinema screened non-conventional movies 119 times and plans to expand films to culture, education and other fields.

The company aims to “revive movie theaters’ past role” as local stages for enjoying performances, said Yoshito Oyama, head of the marketing department at Aeon Entertainment.

The cinema was also used for picture-book reading sessions for mothers and children and filmer performances of “rakugo,” Japan’s traditional comic storytellers.

Incom Co, an image content production company in Tokyo, also thought of new ways to use movie theaters.

Every morning, the company holds the “School by Film Method,” a breakfast school for businesspeople where they can learn marketing and other business skills from experts while watching documentaries and data on the big screen.

Incom plans to expand programs for the elderly, such as travel and pottery, as well as afternoon sessions for children.

“We would like to attract a wide range of people by offering attractive image contents,” Incom President Jun Tsutsui said.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: Dick Johnson/Flickr