Mediage gives Tokyo new look

Sony hopes to lure free-spenders to Daiba waterfront

by Setsuko Kamiya

The up-and-coming Daiba area on Tokyo’s waterfront adds a new attraction today — the largest cinema complex in the metropolitan area.

Facing the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo’s central cityscape, Mediage is the Sony group’s first high-tech entertainment center in Japan. It features 13 movie theaters, five interactive attractions and 27 restaurants, cafes and shops.

The six-story amusement center covers 27,000 sq. meters, or a third of Aqua City Odaiba, a mall that opened earlier this month.

Film distribution giant Toho Co. will operate the theaters, which feature Sony’s latest audio and visual technologies.

The cinema complex, which screens its first movie Saturday, is capable of accommodating 3,034.

Although the complex takes Sony in a new direction domestically, Mediage is the third urban entertainment complex Sony has built globally, according to Koichiro Natsume, managing director of Sony Urban Entertainment, which operates Mediage.

The group launched a similar center in San Francisco in June 1999 and another in Berlin in February; some of the attractions in Tokyo’s complex are similar to those at the overseas facilities, Natsume said.

Among the virtual, role-playing and other attractions, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” offers visitors a walk through the 1963 picture book.

Anyone wanting to watch a movie at the complex, experience the interactive attractions or make a purchase will be required to use a prepaid card that is the central piece of a Sony-developed marketing system.

Visitors also will be required to fill out an application form to get a card, which will allow Sony to collect information on customers’ entertainment preferences. Sony will then use the information from the application form and that which it collects as visitors use the attractions in direct marketing campaigns, Natsume said.

Sony has invested about 14 billion yen in the amusement facility, which it projects will draw an annual 20 million visitors in its first year, 5 million of whom are expected to spend money, Natsume said.

About 25 million people visited the Daiba area last year, according to Natsume.

“We’re hoping to attract not only young women and couples but also families who visit the area,” he said. “We want to provide them with all sorts of entertainment so that they want to come back again.”