News and Opinion
The Asahi has a fun article in this morning's paper (December 10). As other media have reported, there's a little bit of a hubbub going on regarding how much Tokyo Prefecture spent on a 10-minute promotion video as part of its effort to become the host city for the summer Olympics. This video, by the way, was only shown once as part of Tokyo's final presentation. This is also the prefectural government headed by Ishihara Shintaro, the right-wing politician, brother of the movie star Ishihara Yujiro, and the novelist whose book was turned into the movie Crazed Fruit.
It's interesting because the article compares how much this video cost to how much the average movie costs in Japan.
First, the 10-minute video, which was produced by Dentsu (the major ad agency in Japan), cost 500 million yen (or about $5.7 million) to make. The breakdown is as follows:
- Filming and editing: 270 million yen
- Computer graphics: 80 million yen
- Producer and staff: 54 million yen
- Extras: 25 million yen
- Music and narration: 17 million yen
The media is taking this up as another example of the government wasting money, and so to emphasize this, the Asahi gives some comparative facts. First, a PR video of that length usually costs 20-30 million yen. Second, the average budget of the 407 Japanese theatrical films released in 2007 was 260 million yen (about $3 million). A film producer working at one of the major TV networks (which are now the producers of the major films made in Japan today) even commented that a big budget TV-produced theatrical film is usually only about 400 million yen (about $4.5 million). Third, the computer graphics budget for a feature film with lots of CG work is at best about 100 million yen.
A few months ago I participated in Iain Scott's poll of critics of the best 50 films of all time. This time, he has asked us to pick films that were not among the top results in that poll: in other words, films "Beyond the Canon". Iain was hoping for more varied results, but as he seems to lament, the result was still rather US-centered. It was thus good that I decided to make my response center on Japanese films. These, however, were mostly not the movies that tend to reach the top of Western polls of the greatest Japanese films of all time. In a sense, they were "Beyond the Japanese Canon" or "Beyond the Western Canon of the Japanese Canon." I added a bit of annotation this time so as to encourage readers to search out these wonderful films. There were, of course, a ton more I could have added, but there just wasn't time...