Article: The lack of Anime films in American theatres
Written by: Esosa Osamwonyi
The Lack of Anime Films in American Theatres
by Esosa Osamwonyi on June 05, 2011
Recently there have been a lot of anime movies being released on home formats such as DVD and Blu-ray—movies such as Evangelion 2.22 and Summer Wars just to name a few. Now these are very high budget projects and when one watches something like this, you can really see how much work has been put into it. Sometimes when I’m watching some of these movies on my 23” inch television, a thought sometimes crosses my mind: “This is cool and I would have loved to see this in a cinema!” Which brings me to the point of my topic which is why are these movies not been shown in Western theaters?
I mean granted there was a time when these movies were available for viewing in the cinemas. Sure there were not that many that were put on the big screen but at least it was something. A lot of them even had advertisements. But nowadays you would be lucky to see one in a limited showing. Limited showings as in one day only and usually at some awkward time you probably wouldn’t be able to make—I usually find out about these types of showings several months later. It can be a really tricky predicament.
Let’s be honest here: the American anime industry isn’t in the best of shape these days. It’s pretty much safe to say that its glory days are long, long gone. Struggling DVD/Blu-ray sales, risk of going under, a huge lack of advertisement for the products unless you live on the Internet but that is only a certain demographic. In a sense you could say the industry is in a need of a boost to get it going. I mean, certainly you get higher sales of certain products but these days but that does not happen on a consistent basis. And you need something to get people looking your way to get that boost? So how do you do it? Well my proposition is to take that risk with the cinema.
Let me explain. When you go to watch a movie before the thing even starts you are treated to a bunch of previews of other movies and upcoming works. Now let me give you a scenario. Lets say you are going to see a highly popular movie that is slightly generic like say Fast Five or The Hangover 2. You get your popcorn or snacks and head in. While watching the trailers, a trailer for the new Gundam 00 movie comes up. Or even before you enter you see posters of various anime films coming soon or now playing. Believe it or not this is advertisement on a grand scale. Now you are presenting your product to a larger audience and demographic. Maybe the same trailer for that Gundam 00 will appear on TV or somewhere on the Internet and stick in that person’s head even more. Maybe he would ask a buddy about it and word of mouth begins to spread. And if they were showing anime films in the cinema, no doubt other animated works would be promoted in the preview as well. That is something you don’t really see anymore, at least in many Western countries.
With the increase of CGI animated films, cartoons are no longer strangers to the big screen. In recent years there have a lot of animated films appearing on the big screen and there is something a lot of these works have in common—they do well on the big screen. Usually on their debut, you see them in the top ten. Some even maintain that spot for multiple weeks. Kids and adults love these things. There is a bit of money to be made in this. So what is stopping Anime from joining its other animated brothers and sisters? I mean granted the companies would need a movie distributor like Disney or Sony to distribute the work but I’m sure something can be worked out. Even films by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki still get limited showings despite him winning an Oscar and having some type of popularity in the West. To me it’s like anime films don’t get the chance they deserve. I really feel these works of art have a serious chance to compete with some of the big dogs in the cinema. I mean if stuff like Toy Story and Shrek and Princess and The Frog can be shown, why can’t one watch Evangelion 2.22 on the big screen? During that time we were anticipating its DVD release they could have shown it in more cinemas and maybe garnered a larger interest. And granted with the backing of a decent distributor there would be advertisements on the TV as well. What’s stopping some of these companies from doing something like this?
Sure in a perfect world, this sounds and dandy but I’m sure behind the scenes that industry politics makes this proposal not quite so simple. Anime distribution companies are trying to make a profit on what they can without really maximizing resources. But as big as a gamble it is, I think it would pay off in the long run as I honestly feel certain films with the right promotion would do well or at least decent enough to gain a profit and with that profit you have more resources on your hands to make more power moves. The American anime industry is basically on its knees and it needs CPR. If you’re going to go out why not go out swinging? Take some risks. I mean what else do you got to lose? But I guarantee if given the same option and chance, Anime films in Western cinemas would really be something else. It might be a move worth making—but in the end it’s probably just wishful thinking.