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Secondhand Lions opened on 10th July on a respectable 14 screens throughout Japan ( respectable considering blockbusters usually open on only 30 - 40 screens in under-screened Japan nationwide ) with extremely respectable screening times of 11am, 2pm, 7pm and 9pm in most theatres. 4 screening slots a day is excellent. It costs US$25 to see the film , which is being shown in English with Japanese subtitles in most of the Tokyo screens, and dubbed in Japanese without English subtitles in the surburbs and smaller cities.

Click banner to check out the box office performance of Secondhand Lions in Japan

Japan has always been a major market for Haley Joel Osment, who has a large fan base there, so the distributor of Secondhand Lions in Japan, Nippon Herald Films , has pulled out all stops to promote the film there. As is typical of the Japanese, well known for their classy attention to detail in packaging, The first promo poster ( Style A ) for Secondhand Lions featured artwork that is totally unique , with Haley Joel Osment featured prominently . It is interesting to note that Michael Caine and Robert Duvall, who may perhaps be less well-known (or perhaps, slightly less well-loved ) in Japan , are featured less prominently in the marketing of the film in Japan.


In Japan, the film is known as "WALTER THE TEENAGER AND HIS SUMMER HOLIDAY" (also translatable as " THE SUMMER HOLIDAY OF TEENAGED WALTER ") , although the Japanese logo also features the original title "Secondhand Lions" .

The tagline in the Style A poster is loosely translated into english as " The encounter , like the brightness of summer sunshine, shines on a boy's heart ".

On 2nd May 2004, this website was alerted by Fair that a second promotional poster was now available in Japan. It's a beautiful one , with headshots of Walter and his two uncles superimposed on a background shot of Walter being hugged by one of the uncles. As Fair correctly observes , " although it is similar to the first, somehow they have managed to capture more of the heart of the film. " It's heartening to note that Japan is going all out to promote the film, and they are doing it in a classy, artistic manner !


In the Style B poster, the tagline is completely different from that used in the Style A poster . The Japanese words in red at the top of the poster now reads , " An impressive story that will touch your heart. "

Both Style A and Style B posters featured identical artwork on the reverse side, with Japanese text and more pictures from Secondhand Lions .


Together with these first two posters, which are distributed in the theatre lobbies as Chirashi ( approx. 7" x 10" size mini-posters printed on high quality paper , featuring beautiful art work or photographs on the front and back ( and Japanese text on the reverse) , a trailer was also released. The Japanese trailer for Secondhand Lions is particularly interesting, as it is completely different from the trailers used in the USA campaign and other international promotions of the film.

Realaudio trailer

Anthony , webmaster of the excellent fansite The Haley Osment Zone , was first with the news that on 21st April 2004, Haley made a appearance at a press conference in Japan to promote the release of Secondhand Lions there. It was a stunning appearance by Haley, whose popularity in Japan is evident. Click on the banner below to view the video of the press conference and for screencaptures of Haley's appearance in Japan.


Initial press reviews have been extremely positive. One review in Japanese has given Secondhand Lions 8 stars out of 10 and it looks as if Secondhand Lions will be well received in Japan.

Meanwhile, on 15th June 2004 , closer to the release of Secondhand Lions in Japan on 3rd July 2004, the official Japanese website ramps up their campaign for the film with a new section featuring a beautiful new banner , a new video of Haley talking about the film, and bonus features which include downloadable " Print Goods " (customised , and very cool, Secondhand Lions stationary ), and downloadable wallpaper for your desktop screen!


The Japanese campaign's attention to detail is astonishing, because they not only are obviously focusing their marketing campaign around Haley's popularity, but they are also taking advantage of the love that the Japanese have for cartoons, after all, the adult Walter was a cartoonist. Besides this little picture of Walter and the lion featured in the title ....

..... two other cartoons of Walter and the lion also appear on the official Japanese website, one showing Walter wrestling with Jasmine the lion ....

... and other very sweet cartoon showing Walter sitting side by side with Jasmine the lion and hugging her.

The video of Haley is especially wonderful. Obviously meant to play in cinemas nationwide in Japan , it begins with a closeup of Haley Joel Osment, looking straight into the camera with a smile and twinkle in his eyes as he says , " Hello to everyone in this theatre.... I'm Haley Joel Osment. " The effect is immediately mesmerising , as Haley goes on to speak in English ( with a Japanese voiceover) about how much the film means to him. He asks cinema goers to join him " this summer" to experience the story of Secondhand Lions, and ends his short message with a sentence in Japanese , said with such sincerity and confidence. This is then followed by the Japanese trailer of Secondhand Lions.

click to view the promotional clip (4MB)

The effect of this promotional theatrical short is incredible, with Haley speaking directly to the theatre goer . He is thoroughly charismatic and obviously speaks from the heart , and one can imagine the effect he must have on the Japanese theatre goer !


With less than 2 weeks to go before the July 10th 2004 release of Secondhand Lions in Japan, the official Japanese website once again updated the site with a new banner , focusing on the touching relationship between young Walter and his uncles. The release date is also prominently stated in this new banner for the film.

Meanwhile , Cinema voice at WOWOW Online featured a great interview with Haley Joel Osment about his role in Secondhand Lions , complete with a picture of a signed Secondhand Lions Japanese poster which fans can win in a special draw !

Haley also makes the cover of the July 2004 issue of Japanese magazine , NONSTOP ENGLISH WAVE ( vol 100 ) .

The Japanese are well known to do things in style , and what they are doing with the Japanese campaign for Secondhand Lions really gives the film the respect it deserves. Bravo !


SECONDHANDLIONS : check out the different versions of the Region 2 DVDs and VHS released in Japan :

Many thanks as always to FAIR for being the first to discover the breaking news and for alerting us about it. Many thanks also to Anthony for all the help with the videos and other updates ! You are great fans of Haley and I am privileged to be associated with you !
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