ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan moviegoers will soon have the chance to see Japanese anime films that are gaining popularity around the world, following a partnership between Colombo-based Scope by Liberty Cinemas and a distributor based in Singapore, an official said.
In 2020, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train earned over US$400 million, according to BoxOffice Mojo, making it the highest-grossing film of 2020.
It was screened during the coronavirus pandemic while the rest of the entertainment industry struggled to keep up.
Anime, however, has maintained a niche audience. The genre has historically been critically acclaimed for telling gripping stories that cross cultural barriers, with the 2001s Taken away as if by magic by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame.
“There are Japanese companies in Sri Lanka and they have been approached by animation companies to distribute their films, so we thought about releasing some of the titles,” said Riyaz Hasheem, Managing Director of Scope by Liberty Cinemas, at EconomyNext.
“There’s a small Japanese community living in Sri Lanka and on TV, some Japanese animation is also very popular, so there’s already a niche crowd.”
Anime has a growing following in Sri Lanka, not just among Japanese expats. The same goes for South Korean movies, music, and TV shows.
Cinemas in Sri Lanka generally show films in English, Sinhalese, Tamil and Hindi.
Hasheem said he formed a partnership with Singapore-based Odex Pte Ltd, which distributes Japanese films, which approached them.
It was not an expensive exercise and the audience was niche, but the company wanted to develop the foreign language films for Sri Lankan audiences, he said.
“We also try to get films in other languages. It is difficult due to the current situation in the country, but we hope to have them in the future,” Hasheem said.
Sri Lanka faces currency shortages due to money being printed to keep interest rates low.
Recently, several films such as Fanny and Alexander from Sweden have become international hits and from South Korea Parasite became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in the United States. (Colombo/January 13, 2021)