ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka filmgoers will soon have a chance to see Japanese anime films which have been growing in popularity worldwide, following a partnership between Colombo-based Scope by Liberty Cinemas and a Singapore based distributor, an official said.
In 2020, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train earned over 400 million US dollars, according to BoxOffice Mojo, making it the highest grossing movie in 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 been historically been critically acclaimed for telling compelling stories that cut across cultural barriers, with 2001’s Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame.
“There are some Japanese companies in Sri Lanka and they were approached by the animation companies to distribute their films, so we thought of putting out some of the titles out,” Riyaz Hasheem Chief Executive of Scope by Liberty Cinemas told EconomyNext.
“There is a small Japanese community living in Sri Lanka and on TV also some Japanese animation is very popular, so there is already a niche crowd.”
Anime has a growing audience in Sri Lanka, not just among Japanese expats. The same is true for South Korean movies, music and TV shows.
Sri Lanka cinemas usually screen English, Sinhala, Tamil and Hindi films.
Hasheem said they formed a partnership with Singapore based Odex Pte Ltd, which distributes Japanese movies, that had approached them.
It was not a costly exercise and the audience was niche but the firm was keen to expand foreign language films for Sri Lankan audiences, he said.
“We are trying to get films in other languages also. It’s difficult due to the current situation in the country, but we hope to get them in the future,” Hasheem said.
Sri Lanka is facing foreign exchange shortages due to money printed to keep interest rates low.
Of late, several films such as Fanny and Alexander from Sweden have become international hits and South Korea’s Parasite became the first non-English language movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in the US. (Colombo/Jan13/2021)