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The coronavirus crisis has shut down the Japanese film business from top to bottom, but a crowdfunding campaign has provided those who are most at risk with some relief.

While industry giant Toho, which operates the country’s largest theater chain and releases the biggest domestic box-office hits, is likely to survive and eventually thrive, the same can’t be said for art houses. Known as mini-shiatā (mini-theaters) in Japan, many of them were barely making ends meet before the crisis began. Though relatively few in number compared to corporate cinemas, they are a crucial part of this country’s cinematic ecosystem.

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