The official Japanese Marvel Studios Twitter account announced that it teamed up with the producers of Sword Art Online The Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night to help advertise both the new anime movie and the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eternals, in the region. The company tweeted out a new Sword Art Online Progressive poster that is meant to be displayed alongside Eternals’ movie poster. The new SAO poster features many of the series’ key characters, including the swordsman Kirito and the movie’s main protagonist, Asuna, as well as Mito, a new character who is introduced in the movie. Aria of a Starless Night opened in Japan on Oct. 30, while Eternals premiered in theaters in the country on Nov. 5.
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This isn’t the first time Marvel has teamed up with a popular anime franchise to help promote one of its MCU Movie Venom 2 Carnage releases in Japan. Earlier this year, Marvel collaborated with Bleach creator Tite Kubo to help advertise the Japanese premiere of the Disney+ series, Loki. Warner Bros. has also used the same tactic, and commissioned The Promised Neverland artist Posuka Demizu to create a new illustration to promote the release of Dennis Villenueve’s Dune in the region. In the strangest example of this type of international cross-promotion, Paramount enlisted the help of Uma Musume, a multimedia franchise about anime girls who are also pop stars and reincarnated race horses, to help advertise the upcoming Venom 2 Streaming in Japan.
While the New Marvel Movies Eternals and other big-budget American blockbusters have a sizable audience in Japan, they are still routinely outperformed in the country by domestically produced live-action films and anime movies. The top 5 highest grossing movies in Japan for the year are all anime productions, such as Evangelion 3.0 + 1.01: Thrice Upon a Time and the latest Detective Conan movie, or are live-action adaptations of anime and manga, such as the live-action Tokyo Revengers movie. In Japan at least, these anime franchises have outperformed the localized releases of big-budget hits such as F9: The Fast Saga and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
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Eternals is currently in theaters. The movie was directed by Chloe Zhao and is based on a comic created by Jack Kirby. The movie stars Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel and Kit Harington.
Sword Art Online The Movie -Progressive- Aria of a Starless Night will be released in the United States and Canada on Dec. 3.
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Eternals already marks a reunion between Harington and Richard Madden, who played half-brothers on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Harington, however, said meeting his former co-star in another major franchise felt somewhat uneventful. “We really didn’t have a lot of time on set together on Game of Thrones,” he explained. “So it’s strange. Our closeness is not built in front of camera; it’s built behind camera. We’ve been very good friends for a long time, so it was nice to spend bit of time — albeit limited time — with a friend on set.” Harington added, “For fans of Game of Thrones or fans of that universe, to see two major roles from that world in another one feels like a bigger thing than it does to me and Richard.”
Harington previously admitted he doesn’t know if his Eternals character was among those snapped away by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War before being “blipped” back in Avengers: Endgame. When asked if Marvel Studios ever told him whether or not his character fell victim to Thanos, Harington said, “They didn’t actually, and I never asked. That’s bad acting of me. That’s bad preparation. I reckon he wasn’t. I reckon he was there, he stayed. That’s the decision I’m making now.”