Japanese Cinema Stocks Soar on Hopes of Blockbusters

Patrick Frater and Mark Schilling
Variety

The shares of Tokyo Theaters soared by 15% on Thursday. They are leading a sudden upswing for Japanese movie company stocks.

That was the second day this week that the stock climbed by the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s daily limit. Having closed on Monday at JPY132, it closed Thursday at JPY211, for a 60% gain in three days

Propelling Tokyo Theaters were investors’ hopes that animated feature “In This Corner of the World” could become the latest homegrown blockbuster. The film is a coming of age story about a girl in prewar Hiroshima and life during wartime in Kure, a nearby port.

The film directed by Sunao Katabuchi was released this month by Tokyo Theaters and took tenth spot with $513,000 on 39,600 admissions. That gives it $1.5 million in nine days, a modest figure compared with ongoing hit “Your Name,” which in its 13th week of release has achieved a cumulative score of $171 million.

What may be driving hopes that “Corner” can expand are almost universally positive reviews and its unusual demographics. Unlike most animation, the film is attracting a large number of senior citizens, with little drop off on the weekdays. Tokyo Theaters said that many screening are standing room only and that it would take the film wider.

The Nikkei Asian Review reported Daiwa Securities analysts saying that social media is providing Japanese consumers with more information and helping them to find better deals. That may be driving attendance higher.

On Tuesday shares of Toho, the country’s biggest exhibitor and distributor, were up 17%. Toho climbed a further 10% on Thursday. Toho’s revival of the 50 year-old Godzilla monster movie franchise was another solid hit earlier this year. Released in April, “Shin Godzilla” scored $75.3 million in Japanese theaters. An added bonus was a $1.92 million score for the picture in North American theaters where it was released by Funimation.

The other two Japanese majors, Toei and Shochiku were up 5% and 25% respectively on Tuesday.

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