I remember reading in an article somewhere that Japan’s box office takings is the 2nd largest in the world ( United States is no.1 of course ) – a huge, tasty slice of the cake that constitute global movie ticket sales. As such it comes as little surprise that movie studios and film distributors go to great lengths to please the Japanese market, which is why premieres in Japan are almost always graced by the director and stars of the film to maximize media coverage, which in turn drive ticket sales.
Outside of actual ticket sales, the film’s accompanying movie pressbook is the next revenue spinning commodity. An integral part of Japanese movie watching experience, the pressbook satisfies the moviegoers’ need to purchase something tangible, a nice little memorabilia that they can bring home after a day at the cinema.
So what is a movie pressbook ( or movie pamphlet as it is known here in Japan ) actually ? Its basically a small booklet ( usually 30-40 pages ) that contains the film’s synopsis and background, production photos, cast and crew information, and trivia like that. Priced around 600-800 yen (8-10 US dollars), and available only during the film’s run at the cinema, pressbooks sell like hotcakes, and the more popular and sought after ones end up on auction sites for many times the original price.
The idea is simple, but the execution is just brilliant; many of the books produced are so exquisitely pretty its hard not to part with one’s money for a copy, especially if its a film that you enjoyed. Here are some beautiful pressbooks that I have collected over the years ( most of them bought at a discount from 2nd bookstores ) :
(above) One of my all time favourite films, JPJ’s Amelie. ( アメリin Japanese ) Below – Lee Sang Il’s Hula Girls, starring the lovely Yu Aoi. This is the only hard cover pressbook I’ve ever seen (so far).
(below) Roman Polanski’s The Pianist. I like the cover so much that I have it on my wall as a mini poster.
Kiriya Kazuaki’s sci-fi flick Casshern, adapted from the original anime series. The pressbook consists of 3 mini volumes housed in a cardboard case. Fans of Casshern might be interested in Kiriya’s new film Goemon. I wonder what the pressbook will look like ?
(Below) Kon Satoshi’s Paprika, with a iridescent cover.