Like a Monday, a deliciously meta film

Like a Monday, a deliciously meta film

Eric Le Bot, the boss of Art House, distributor of this Japanese comedy in the style of an endless week, discusses the release strategy of this film, whose career got off to a good start on Wednesday.

What made you want to distribute Like a Mondaythis office comedy in which employees of a Japanese advertising agency find themselves reliving the same week over and over again?

Eric Le Bot: His quality of writing, his ability to make people laugh as much as he moves… But also what immediately struck a chord with us: his meta side through this concept of the working week which repeats itself endlessly and spoke to us at Art House, as it can speak to everyone, whether we are a boss, an executive or an employee. Because this concept echoes our professional lives. Under the guise of fiction, the film speaks of the repetitive aspect that work can have and the way in which some people realize this more quickly than others, before trying to escape from a circle that has become hellish. In this, Like a Monday does not fit into science fiction or anticipation cinema. We are not in pure irrationality…

The film immediately resonated with me, the boss of a small company of 7 people who constantly asks me these types of questions. And to take the analogy with Art House even further, Monday is a crucial day for all distributors! The one where the distribution of films on screens is decided for the following Wednesday, the day of their release. A Monday that repeats itself endlessly for programmers because they call and ask the same questions to the same operators… It is also in a nod to this that we projected, last September, at the congress of operators, a parody video featuring an extract from Like a Monday by subtitling it with dialogues referring to what they and we experience every Monday and the apparent repetitive aspect of our line-up, mainly bringing together Japanese films (see below)

How was this Japanese tropism born for you?

As a student, I participated in an exchange program with Japan which allowed me to spend six months in Tokyo. And it was on the way back that I started watching Japanese films, to fill the frustration of not having been able to do it there because of the language barrier!

How was the marketing strategy built? Like a Monday ?

We chose to focus almost exclusively on the comedy aspect of the film, unlike The Asada Family where we played on the double identity of the film. For this, we relied on the reception of the film during the Hanabi Seasons, a Japanese film festival that we have been organizing since 2019. This event allows us to concretely evaluate the potential of each film by relying on both the desire of spectators (the speed at which theaters fill up when bookings are made) and their reactions during screenings. This is the enthusiasm that we perceived around Like a Monday which, for example, encouraged us to invest in 4×3 posters in the metro, which we don't do for all our films

How is the decision-making process that leads to distributing a film carried out at Art House?

We have a very wide diversity of proposals because Japanese cinema is not monotonous, ranging from animation to thrillers, including comedy and auteur cinema. And to build our line-up, there are sometimes obvious things for me like My sunshine by Hiroshi Yokohama, selected this year for Un Certain Regard, where I made a proposal directly without discussing it with the rest of the team. But when I doubt, I really feed off the opinions of others, the agreements and disagreements with my point of view

What does a Cannes selection mean for a company like Art House?

We haven't been to Cannes that often! Our films have been shown more through Venice in recent years. This selection represents a sort of consecration. For the film as for us. And a springboard for its release scheduled for December 24 today as well as for the recognition of its author. Cannes constitutes a particle accelerator, even when we are not in competition.

Has a film changed the situation in the life of your company created in 2018?

Without a doubt the success of The Asada Familyboth in our exchanges with our Japanese and French interlocutors.

Has placing and maintaining your films in theaters become simpler since then?

The reports are more fluid but, to stay with the theme of Like a Monday, it's an eternal start again since a lot of parameters come into play and mean that no release resembles another. It remains a fight. Like a Monday symbolizes a perfect example of this. A type of comedy that we had never really offered and where we hope to attract a slightly younger audience while being aware of the difficulty of broadening the prism of what people expect. But I repeat, this is our goal, which explains why we distribute so well The Asada Family that the documentary Professor Yamamoto is retiring.

Do you limit yourself in the number of annual outings?

We voluntarily limit ourselves to 7 or 8 films per year to take care of them well but also to avoid tiring either the exhibitors or the spectators.

You are releasing an animated film this summer (July 3), Pompo the cinephile. Didn't the sequence of the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games in Paris make you hesitate?

Very early on, I wanted something to be proposed. A word of mouth film that could find its place in a market that risks being a little chaotic. A film that can be installed over length. And I believe that on his scale, Pompo the cinephile has that in him

How do you see the future of Arthouse?

I resonate on a fairly distant horizon. My desire, my will is that Japanese cinema can one day have the same aura as Hollywood cinema. That we know the actors so well, for example. Knowing that for the moment, it only represents approximately 2% of annual entries in France. The road is long but exciting!

Like a Monday. By Ryo Takebayashi. With Akemi Yoshikiwa, Shigeru Nagahisa, Ken Murata… Duration: 1h23. Released May 8, 2024

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