Theatre Seats

Why It Sometimes Sucks Being a Movie Buff in Japan

I’m a movie buff plain and simple. Going to see the latest North American blockbuster on opening night is a past time of mine. My favourite movie food is the classic popcorn and coke. I prefer layered butter with salt and vinegar shakers and a coke zero. The layered butter preference is thanks to John Himpe, who introduced me the buttery goodness that is layered butter. Being able to see movies opening day I’ve taken for granted, I’ll admit. After moving to Japan there is a noticeable lag in when certain North American movies are released here, if at all. For huge blockbusters the release dates vary wildly it seems. Ranging from same day worldwide release, a few weeks, or even months. This is comparing to North American releases. I’ve done some quick research and nothing really comes up to find a reason behind the delays in some releases. My educated guess would be it has to do with translation, in either subtitles or dubbing of audio. This obviously could be completely wrong or just a small piece of a bigger puzzle. If you have any insight, I’d love to hear it.

Watching North American Movies in Japan

The Family 2013 Movie Poster
The Family also known as “Maltiva” here in Japan.

I’ve seen a few movies since I’ve been here, which were just released. These included Red 2 and The Family. If you’re from North America you’ll notice that these have been released earlier this year during the summer. I had the choice of seeing it with Japanese dubbed audio or English with Japanese subtitled. I opted for the English just so I could hear something I could fully understand.

Major Releases in North America & Japan

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Movie Poster

The holiday season in North America is one of the best times of the year for movie releases (summer is the other). Here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the biggest movies that have been released or are being released this 2013 holiday season:

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Frozen
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Gravity
  • Last Vegas
  • American Hustle

Disneys Frozen

Just to put it into perspective for you, the only movie that has been released so far has been Gravity. It was released on December 13th, 2013. The next will be The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on December 27th, 2013.  A movie such as Last Vegas will likely not see a Japanese release as I do not think it would have an appeal to the Japanese audience. Just due to the premise of the movie and type of humour that would be involved.The rest of the films are coming out in 2014.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug Poster The one that really has me is The Hobbit. I’m a Tolkien fanatic and originally the movie was supposed to be released on the same date as North America. Somewhere that changed to February 28th, 2014. Which is incredibly disappointing, while all my friends are enjoying the next installation of The Hobbit trilogy I have to sit back and wait. It’s not the end of the world by any stretch but I’m sure some of you can relate.

The Upside

On the upside, there are quite a few of Japanese movies here that I would never have known existed. As they would be DVD only releases back in North America or would never be released at all. From Lupid the 3rd vs. Detective Conan: The Movie (an anime crossover movie) to Roommate (thriller). I will have to check out a few of these titles at my local Toho Cinema. Roommate Japanese Poster

What do you think?

Having to wait longer for  movie releases as a movie buff, while it is a downer sometimes, it is just one of those things you have to accept when moving to another country and culture. That just means when I do finally get to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug it will be that much more satisfying. To all you movie buffs out there, how would you deal with the delay in releases here in Japan? I want to hear your thoughts. Also, if you haven’t already make sure to subscribe so you can have new posts sent right to your inbox.

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