Yamato movie on Fuji TV, 1978

Article reproduction from Yamato Syndrome doujinshi, 2018

Space Battleship Yamato, Fuji TV August 4

Conditions on the production side
Fierce competition at the top, Japan TV drops out

Broadcast fee 50 million yen

Nikkan Sports, June 20, 1978

Space Battleship Yamato, which was a big hit in theaters last summer, is being reimported to TV. It will be aired on Fuji TV for three hours from 8:00 p.m. on August 4. Yamato was originally broadcast on Japan TV, which must now be grinding its teeth.

Three-hour special, just like the theatrical version

Space Battleship Yamato was originally produced as 26 episodes airing on Japan TV from October 1974. Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki re-edited the TV version for theatrical release. Last summer, the film ignited a tremendous Yamato boom, earning approximately 10 million yen (in distribution revenue).

Immediately after the release of the film, there was a fierce battle between Japan TV and Fuji TV in the broadcast market. Japan TV was very eager to obtain the broadcast rights because it was their flagship program. “Yamato is something that grew in our garden,” they said, “so we are the natural choice for the broadcasting rights.” At one point, there was even a dispute about the garden.

Nishizaki’s conditions for the two stations were as follows:
(1) Broadcast of the two hour, eighteen minute film as it was shown in the theater.
(2) The program would be aired before the August 5th release of Part II, Farewell to Yamato.
(3) Highlight scenes of Farewell must be broadcast.

Japan TV offered 25 million yen for the broadcasting rights at the end of last year, while Fuji offered 50 million. The difference between the two was nearly double. However, Mr. Nishizaki said, “At that point, I had decided to go with Japan TV.”

However, Japan TV was not willing to accept the “uncut” stipulation, so Fuji, which had met all of the conditions, won the broadcasting rights. Fuji will broadcast the film for three hours from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on August 4. Since the running length of the film is 2 hours and 18 minutes, Producer Nishizaki will be invited to the studio to talk about the behind-the-scenes production, and to explain why the series was terminated in its second half.

Tatsuhiko Goto, Director of Nippon TV’s Second Production Department, said they could offer up to two and a half hours of air time, but Mr. Nishizaki insisted on three hours, and they could not come to an agreement.

The secret of the boom: eternal roman that inspires dreams

Yamato received a wide range of support from young children to the youth. Eternal roman is packed into the story of young space soldiers saving the Earth and the universe from danger. It is said that its optimism of believing in the future, with people at its core, is one of the reasons it is such a hit.

The phenomenal advance sales popularity for Part II

Space Battleship Yamato has grossed approximately 1 billion yen in distribution. Part II, titled Farewell to Yamato, is scheduled to open nationwide on August 5 at 105 Toei and Tokyu theaters nationwide, and advance ticket sales have been astonishing.

Advance sales began on the 10th of this month. As of the 18th, advance sales for Shibuya Tokyu Rex were 2,205, Ikebukuro Tokyu 1,208, and Shinjuku Palace 651. Compared to the same period last year, these figures are all up 30-50%.

The summer’s most anticipated film, Star Wars, which opens on the 24th, is still strong with 4,333 (Shinjuku Plaza) and 4,930 (Sokkyo Theater) sold in advance 10 days prior to its release. The growth rate of Farewell to Yamato is even higher than that. It may set a new record in the box office world.

Bark at the Sun! and Red Crash both Defeated
The Triumph of Space Battleship Yamato

Breakneck Speed, a Whopping 35.6%

Sankei Sports, August 8

Space Battleship Yamato, which was broadcast on Fuji TV in a three-hour timeslot beginning at 8pm on the 4th, overwhelmed programs on other channels and achieved a 31.9% rating according to Nielsen results. Yamato was shown on Fuji’s Golden Foreign Film Theater as the harbinger of Farewell to Yamato, which premiered on the 5th.

Yamato began around 8pm, competing with Bark at the Sun! [detective drama/Yomiuri TV] whose previous three weeks’ ratings average was 29.4%, Seven Detectives [detective drama/TBS] at 14.2%, and the Whales vs. Giants baseball game that had started at 7pm. During the period Yamato achieved 29.4% at around 9pm.

Then, competing against Red Crash [suspense drama/TBS], whose previous three weeks’ rating averaged 23.5%, Yamato ascended to 31.3%, higher than its 8pm start time. The baseball game maintained at 20.6%, but when it finished at 9:25, the rating went down to 9.9% and many switched to Yamato.

Another competitor appeared around 10pm, Rumor’s Channel [variety show/Nippon TV]. Its three-week average of 13.9% decreased to 11.7%. Yamato‘s peak was 35.6% at 10:06pm, surpassing the first half of Deadly Merchant‘s 30.9% [historical drama/TV Asahi].

Among movies or long-form dramas aired this year, the only one to surpass 30% was Wind Burned [samurai drama] on TBS, which achieved 37.1% on March 6. Video research surveys reported that Yamato‘s 31.2% far surpassed the baseball game’s peak of 23.5%.

Severely damaged by Yamato were popular TV dramas such as Bark at the Sun! and Red Crash, whose ratings were down. The usual Golden Foreign Theater average rating is 12-14%, so Yamato more than doubled this number.

There seemed to be a race to find out what was behind the ratings competition. During the Yamato broadcast, Fuji Television received many calls from dads (who much prefer baseball games) asking when the program would be over. Fuji sounded very pleased with Yamato‘s triumph, saying, “we had expected high ratings, but there are many tough competitors so we could not imagine how far it would go. We are thrilled to know the result. This is tremendous.”

Translator’s Notes: Most Americans have no knowledge of the various programs mentioned in this article, but it was a very significant achievement for Yamato to have bested its competition, particularly Bark at the Sun! which was an extremely popular crime drama equivalent to anyone’s favorite police procedural programs today. Additionally, Red Crash was the seventh installment in “The Red Dramas,” a series of made-for-TV-movies that regularly attracted huge audiences.

Something else that made Yamato‘s victory over Bark so noteworthy was the network affiliation. The original Yamato series was broadcast on Yomiuri, but the network’s bid for the movie was bested by Fuji. By rights, Yamato and Bark should have been two jewels in the Yomiuri crown, but instead they became competitors. This continued for many years with Fuji landing all subsequent Yamato films. As a result, Yomiuri later bid on (and won) the exclusive broadcast rights to all of Studio Ghibli’s anime movies.

Special thanks to Sword Takeda for translation assistance.

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