Most of the nearly 500 Japanese films released each year are low-budget independent films screened at art houses named locally Mini Shiata (mini theater). Before the pandemic, most mini-movie theater owners were struggling to survive financially, and their struggles only intensified after COVID-19 hit and theaters across the country were shut down for a month starting in April 2020.
Crowdfunding campaigns and other initiatives helped them stay in business, but the recovery to the pre-pandemic status quo has been slow, especially outside of the greater Tokyo area.
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