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Tokyo Theatres stock limit-up on animated blockbuster

The anime film "Kimi no Na wa" ("Your Name") is becoming all the rage, and setting box-office records, in Japan.   © 2016 Kimi no Na wa Production Committee

TOKYO -- Shares in Tokyo Theatres Company went limit-up in Tokyo on Tuesday, climbing 37% to 182 yen amid high expectations for the distributor's animated blockbuster, "Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni" ("In This Corner of the World").

Adding momentum to the stock is the string of domestic hit films this year, including "Shin Godzilla" ("Godzilla Resurgence") and "Kimi no Na wa" ("Your Name"), both of which have been nominated as candidates for the top Japanese buzzword of the year.

It was reported Tuesday that ticket sales for "In This Corner of the World" topped 110,000 for the nine-day period following its release on Nov. 12. The news triggered a surge in buy orders for the stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on expectations that big box office sales will translate to bigger profits for the distributor.

With the film being screened at only 68 theaters nationwide, some shows have been standing-room only. A company spokesman said more theaters are set to show the movie. 

Social media, including reviews on Twitter and Facebook, has played a big role in fueling the popularity of this year's hits.

"Consumer trends appear to be changing now that people can turn to social media to find the highest quality for the lowest prices," said a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Other cinema stocks also performed well Tuesday, with Toho and Toei up 17% and 5%, respectively, from the end of February, when consumer spending was weak. Shochiku was up a solid 25%.

Not all leisure-related stocks did well. Tokyo Disneyland operator Oriental Land Co. and travel agency H.I.S. sank 21% and 2%, respectively.

The number of visitors to Tokyo Disney Resort, home to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, during the April-September period declined 0.3% on the year, due in part to slow growth in the number of foreign visitors.

The overall penny-pinching mood, coupled with the persuasive power of social media, means the average consumer will likely continue to favor movies as a lower-cost form of entertainment.

However, with consumers increasingly expecting more bang for their buck, film production companies will likely have to continue to raise the quality of their offerings if their stocks are to see sustained growth.

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