Japanese Cinema Record Broken in Pandemic: ‘Hopeful Signal’

In Japan, animated film Demon Slayer has broken a cinematic record almost twenty years old in the heart of the coronapandemic. Within ten days, the film produced more than 10 billion yen (more than 80 million euros).

The previous record film – the 2001 Spirited Away animation – took 25 days to pass that milestone.

The anime, which has the full title Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train, is the first film adaptation of the Japanese comic book, which is popular in Japan. Almost 8 million Japanese people had already seen Demon Slayer on Monday and last week the film signed for the most successful opening weekend ever in Japan, with a return of over 37 million euros.

The trailer of the Demon Slayer movie:

The story takes place in Japan about a hundred years ago. The protagonist is a demon hunter who wants to make his sister transformed into a demon human again.

Demon Slayer started as manga in 2016 and became extremely popular last year after a Japanese TV show was created. In the coronacrisis, the series was also featured on numerous streaming platforms, making millions of Japanese looking forward to the first Demon Slayer film.

Cinema Phobia

Yet it was not clear beforehand whether they dared to come to the cinemas. At the beginning of June, the Japanese government gave the green light for the reopening of the cinemas, but the Japanese were hesitant to visit them.

In August, 60 percent gave cinemas to avoid fear of the virus and 38 percent said they were waiting for a big movie release before they bought another ticket, writes AFP. So Demon Slayer seems to be that movie.

โ€œ This is unprecedented and I am very happy about this,โ€ says Wiepko Oosterhuis of film distribiteur Periscoop Film, who has been bringing Japanese anime to the Dutch cinemas for years. He sees anime becoming increasingly popular, also in the Netherlands. At the beginning of 2019, the anime Dragon Ball Super: Broly was filled with the largest Dutch cinema halls.

Periscope hopes to bring Demon Slayer to the Netherlands in January. Oosterhuis thinks that many cinemas have looked at the figures from Japan with a smile, because it offers a prospect of success in the pandemic. According to The Japan Times also plays part in the fact that the Japanese have become less anxious to go to the cinema in recent times. The daily contamination rates in the country have been stable for almost two months, with an average of about 600 new cases per day.

Hopeful signal

Because of the coronacrisis, many cinemas are in heavy weather. In addition, several major movies have already been released on streaming platforms or postponed. For example, the new James Bond film No Time to Die was postponed for almost a year due to the coronacrisis, to April 2021.

Last month, accountant and consultancy firm PWC projected that cinemas sales worldwide will fall by 66 percent this year. At the same time, popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ are estimated to grow by 26 percent, making streaming services more revenue than cinemas for the first time.

Oosterhuis still has every confidence that the cinemas will be full again. Especially in a country like the Netherlands, where relatively many people go to the cinema, he says. โ€œIt has been said for years that streaming services eventually occupy the place of cinemas. But in countries where they had high streaming quality early on, such as South Korea, you still saw people go to the cinema.

โ€œ It can coexist well and thats what you see with Demon Slayer. People are so looking forward to that. Then they want to experience it together, a bit similar to a football match in the stadium. This is a hopeful signal.โ€