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‘It’s No Longer Clear If We’re Showing Anime Movies Or Just Distributing Bonuses’: Theatre Staff Expresses Frustration

A Japanese theatre employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared their frustration on an online forum regarding the excessive use of bonus promotions to attract theatregoers.

Movies, especially anime movies that release in Japan often come bundled with bonus gifts which tend to pull more audiences to theatres. This includes limited edition illustrations, stickers, bonus manga chapters and other goodies.

For instance, Spy x Family: Code White, one of the recent movies which released in Japan, also put out a tweet recently saying that theatre goers will be receiving presents, and that the presents were limited, in order to instill a sense of urgency.

According to the employee, this year, the sheer abundance of bonuses has left all the theatre employees questioning whether their primary focus is on showcasing films or merely distributing bonus materials.

I work at a movie theater, but I’m completely exhausted with the recent trend of bonus strategies. This year, the impression was that there were really a lot of bonuses.
It’s no longer clear if we’re showing movies or just distributing bonuses. It’s tough.”

Issues With Bonus Distribution And Storage

The employee went on to explain that the distribution periods for bonuses vary from Saturday to Friday and are often limited to the first three days. The distribution methods include ‘continuing until stock runs out’ and ‘weekly rotations’, while the targets of the bonus range from everyone to only middle school students and below.

The post-distribution handling, including discarding at the theatre or costly returns, further worsen the challenges faced by theatre staff.

Moreover, the continuous influx of bonus waves, often without prior notice, created storage issues, and also made them incur additional costs for discarding or returning leftovers.

They keep sending more and more, and it’s even challenging to find a place to put them. Moreover, if there are leftovers, it costs money to either discard or return them.
Recently, they’ve been saying things like, ‘The visual for this bonus will be revealed from ● month ● day ● time, so please be careful in handling. We request thorough management.’ Or, ‘recently, we have observed trading of bonuses, so we request theatres to thoroughly manage their inventory’. They even accuse the staff of reselling.
In the past (feels like ancient times now), leftover bonuses were given to part-time staff, and there wasn’t much fuss about meticulous quantity management. But now, even for free giveaways, it requires a lot of effort and attention. It’s tiring,” they added.

Attitude Of Theatregoers

Anime movie theatregoers

Another major issue the employee addressed was the surge in theatregoers seeking bonuses rather than enjoying the movies. Such people go on to visit multiple theatres solely for bonus collections and not for movie watching.

On top of that, the employee said that a lot of people came towards the end of the screening of their movie, simply to collect the bonuses and special benefits. This has led to the theatres implementing rules to control entry times and clarifying that entrance bonuses are not guaranteed with ticket purchases.

And in case the bonus distribution ends, the customers ask for a refund on the ticket.

Announcing the timing of bonus availability ending is very difficult, and fundamentally, isn’t the main thing ‘the movie?‘,” they stated.

This also leads to the disgruntled moviegoers expressing their frustration over bonus availability on social media and accusing theatres of unfair practices. This was something that the employee found very disheartening.

During the recent weekend, I came across a post like, ‘The distribution ended so quickly because the theater staff are reselling and reducing the quantity.’ It made me feel really down. There’s no way we can pull out such a significant quantity that would affect the number of showings…” they added.

The employee eventually attributed the current situation to movie companies using bonuses as bait to extract money from dedicated fans, and described feeling “uneasy” and “almost guilty” about the practice, which they wished the companies would stop.

On the other hand, they also acknowledged the counterargument that movie companies are businesses with financial goals, but expressed concern about the long-term impact of the current approach. The employee criticized the industry’s focus on repeat viewings by a limited audience, suggesting it could ultimately lead to the decline of movies as an art form.

The Japanese movie industry (not all of it, of course, mainly some major movie companies) seems to be more interested in supplying bait to a certain number of people repeatedly watching a movie 100 times than having 100 different people watch their created movie,” the employee said. “But probably, if they continue like this, movies will die. They will die buried under mountains of discarded bonuses that couldn’t be distributed.

These comments raise concerns about the potential exploitation of fan communities and the long-term viability of niche marketing strategies in the entertainment industry.

Note: It is important to note that these are the opinions of one individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire Japanese movie industry.

Source: Hatelobo