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The Japan Earthquake's Impact on Hollywood


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"From disrupted release calendars to declining show-biz stocks and a heavily altered international box office, The Hollywood Reporter magazine assesses the fall-out.


The following article appears in the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter on newsstands Thursday.


The impact of the Japan earthquake, tsunami and unfolding nuclear crisis on Hollywood could be felt for months as studios and foreign distributors re-evaluate release calendars and showbiz stocks take a fall.


And if the catastrophe worsens, the impact on box office could be even more devastating.


"Everybody is going to look at their lineup for the rest of the year," one studio distributor says. "Once you start moving films back, you are going to pinch other movies. Sequencing will become very tricky.


"It's an hour-by-hour, day-by-day situation," the exec adds. "If these nuclear reactors actually do have a big problem, it's a whole different ballgame."


The most immediate concern is pulling films that might appear insensitive to the tragedy, like Clint Eastwood's Hereafter, which begins with a chilling re-creation of the deadly 2004 tsunami in Thailand. Warner Bros. yanked Hereafter from theaters almost immediately after the 9.0 earthquake struck March 11. Likewise, Japanese distributor Shochiku has canceled the March 26 opening of Chinese box office hit Aftershock, about China's massive 1976 Tangshan earthquake.


While sci-fi action pic Battle: Los Angeles isn?t a disaster movie per se, Sony is canceling the alien-invasion pic's April 1 debut in Japan because of the images of mass destruction.


The Japanese box office has become very important to Hollywood, representing 10 percent of all international ticket sales and generating more than $2.5 billion in revenue in 2010.


Craig Dehmel, senior vp sales and strategic planning at Fox, estimates that 110 theaters in the Tokyo area and northern Japan -- about 16 percent of the total -- remain closed due to safety checks and power shortages.


In the north, as many as 20 movie theaters might have been destroyed, according to anecdotal reports. All told, there are 3,000 screens in Japan.


The most recent time studios had to contend with major scheduling shifts was the 2009 swine flu epidemic in Mexico.


"But the scale of this is so big, I don't know if our experience means much," one frightened Hollywood executive says."


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From the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times:


"Radioactive Plume From Japan Headed to Southern California"




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