While films may be the last thing on the minds of the Japanese people, as they confront the most challenging period in their modern history since the end of World War II, the effect and response from the US entertainment industry has been swift. Japan represents a huge chunk of the international dollars made mainly by Hollywood films and animation projects. As much as 20% of international revenues for Disney comes from the island nation, and the major studios all have large presences in the country, with local offices managing the entire Asian region. For many of the studios, the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and now the on-going nuclear crisis, hits close to home. Disney, for example, is a partner in Tokyo Disneyland, which remains shuttered pending safety inspections. Sony Corporation, the parent of Sony Pictures Entertainment, is based in Japan.
While bottom lines are being fretted over, several media companies and talent agencies have announced humanitarian aid programs for the beleaguered country. The support ranges from direct charitable giving and donations of supplies to programs that match company employees’ charitable giving. While many film, television and music stars have taken to Twitter and other outlets to urge their fans to give, a handful have gotten in on the act themselves. Lady Gaga, for example, has pledged to donate the proceeds of “We pray for Japan” bracelets to relief efforts. Her efforts have so far raised $250,000. Singer Katy Perry, who just finished an extensive concert swing in Asia, announced that she was donating proceeds from the sale of light-up wands on her current tour to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
Other companies are getting in on the act: Sony has given roughly $3.6 million to relief efforts, in addition to the donation of 30,000 radios and 500,000 batteries. The company also is establishing a matching gift program. The hardest-hit Tohoku region is important for Sony, which maintains manufacturing facilities in the area. Disney has said it will donate $2.5 million to the American Red Cross to support aid efforts. It will also match employee donations to the Japanese Red Cross, Pacific Tsunami Fund and Save the Children. Warner Brothers. has said that proceeds of the sale of the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the Clint Eastwood film HEREAFTER will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. The donation will reportedly be in the $1 million range. The film, which opens with a re-creation of the destructive 2004 tsunami in Thailand, was pulled from theaters in the aftermath of the Japan disaster.
NBCUniversal’s Asian Pacific Americans Affinity group co-hosted a fundraiser at Dodger Stadium on March 15. The event raised $600,000 for the American Red Cross. The same group is partnering with restaurants in New York on March 23 for a fundraiser that will see participating eateries donate about 5% of sales to the Red Cross. The company is also planning donate $500,000 to the Red Cross. Meanwhile, parent company Comcast is providing free calls to Japan through April 10 for its Xfinity Voice and Business Class Voice customers.
Several talent agencies have or are planning to contribute to aid efforts. Paradigm is matching its employees’ donations to the Red Cross; UTA’s foundation co-hosted with the American Red Cross a disaster preparedness briefing at the Red Cross headquarters in Los Angeles on March 15. ICM and APA have or will donate undisclosed sums to the organization; and CAA is making donations of undisclosed amounts to several aid organizations. Entertainment companies aren’t alone in their support. Big donations have come from the likes of Dow Chemical Company, which has pledged up to $6 million in aid; JPMorgan Chase, which is making a $5 million donation; and Boeing Corporation, which has pledged $2 million. This will certainly be matched by other multi-nationals as the economic powerhouses line up to offer support for Japan in its hour of crisis.