Thermae Romae Mangaka “Got $10,000 of $62,000,000”


The creator of the manga adapted into blockbuster bathing movie Thermae Romae has spoken of her outrage at learning that of the movie’s 6 billion yen gross she would only be receiving a paltry 1 million yen.

45-year-old mangaka and self-proclaimed “ancient Rome otaku” Mari Yamazaki, is of Tokyo extraction but now lives in Chicago, after having spent much of her life in Italy.


She is best known for time travel bathing manga Thermae Romae, a title exploring the obsession with public bathing shared by both ancient Rome and modern Japan which proved so popular it adapted into a live action film shot in Rome.

However, even more shocking than the success of her manga is the treatment she reports receiving at the hands of studio and publisher in a recent TV interview.

According to her, the film “grossed 5,800,000,000 yen,” of which she “received about 1,000,000 yen as payment for using the story and barely made anything out of it despite it being a hit,” a revelation which soon had the studio in an uproar, to say nothing of the Internet.

She explains that her publisher “suddenly asked for permission to use the work in exchange for 1,000,000 yen,” a sum arrived at “arbitrarily” and which she went along with as she was busy with her work.

Only when she fielded questions from friends about how much of a fortune she had raked in from the success of her creation did she realise publishers had got one over her (although less kind observers might instead characterise this as a near total lack of business acumen on her part).

She concludes that “I made more when I was getting just under 20,000 yen a page for the original manga than I did when it was turned into a hit movie.”

The case has been likened to that of Shuho Sato, whose “Sea Monkeys” manga was adapted into a movie which grossed 7 billion yen, of which he saw a pathetic 2.5 million.

He has been vocal in rubbishing publishers for “Using mangaka as they please, so much so that you should not get your hopes up even if your manga is made into a movie – they are mocking us.”

He fought back by snubbing Shogakukan when they came back for the rights to a sequel, instead hiring his own crafty lawyer to help with negotiating a deal yielding “10 times more” for later movies.

As a Thermae Romae sequel is in the works, there is at least some hope that Yamazaki has had a chance to learn her lesson.

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    Avatar of RaspberryKisses
    Comment by RaspberryKisses
    06:17 26/02/2013 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    “suddenly asked for permission to use the work in exchange for 1,000,000 yen"

    Well there is your problem. you need to use more caution where your work is going and measure profit opportunities.

    It's sucks but it's her own fault.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:21 26/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Should have done a percentage based return, like 10% of the profit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:22 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    You mean GROSS profit. No movie ever makes a NET profit. Just look at author Winston Groom, who had a contract for a share of the net profits. Guess how much he made when Forrest Gump became a hit? (spoiler: jack shit).

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:51 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    The issue in Hollywood lies in the actors who get paid way to much for something so simple.

    The top actors are not better actors than some unknown ones just graduating School. They just get lucky with their roles and get pushed up to the top.

    Orlando Bloom, got his first role playing Legolas in LOTR. Because he got popular from the movie, he could get the overpaid jobs later.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:56 21/03/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Freakazoid knows what we're talking about

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:00 28/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's beside the point related to the Hollywood accounting and net profits. Their accountants add all kinds of shit onto the books for a movie, things like a random flight of the director to NY where he'll have an hour long interview and mention that movie he did six years ago in two sentences. The movie never ever gets to net profit for perhaps tax purposes, and if you have a contract about that net profit, you'll be fucked over.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:22 03/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Holy shit! Does anyone remember watching that E.T. inspired episode of Freakazoid? He actually said the same damn thing about taking 10% gross on sales receipts to the alien he was teaching, and this was back in 1995!

    I suddenly have a lot more respect for Steven Spielberg.

    Avatar of Caggy
    Comment by Caggy
    09:34 28/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    She's blaming the publisher, which one would usually rely on to handle these other business things to their best interest. Obviously she got boned in this deal.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:37 27/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Don't make stupid contracts kids.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:32 27/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Or more correctly, get a lawyer that knows his shit. I had course on television & movie agreements while doing my LLB and the amount of ways the industry can fuck you over with is unbeliveable. If you are ever in a position to make a contract with any big corporation over rights of something you own, get a good lawyer even if costs arm and a leg.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:35 26/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.8)

    Wow, that is pretty lame hopefully she will get more money

    Avatar of Neonie
    Comment by Neonie
    06:56 26/02/2013 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    How do you become to "busy with work" to pursue proper payment?

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:07 26/02/2013 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Sounds like she signed a stupid contract to me.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:08 26/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.8)


    Or you know you can seek legal counsel like everyone else. But of course common sense is not that common, as you have aptly proven.

    Avatar of yuriphoria
    Comment by yuriphoria
    07:46 26/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.4)

    How can you say she was stupid when media contracts are deliberately written to deceive? It's not just the complicated language, it's the fact that things like "profits" don't mean what it says in the dictionary.

    You have to have experience in the industry, or know a lot about the industry to know such things.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:56 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    And common sense dictates to distrust people you've been working with for years every time money is involved. Heck, just don't trust anyone when money is involved. O even better, do not trust anyone ever. Instead, do that kind of kings to other people.
    That must be they key to success and why people with moral values becoming successful are an oddity.
    Oh, and just blame everything on pirates. That work in every industry, even fishing!

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:36 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    never take percentages.

    see the film maker and distributor are owned by the same people, you have a contract with the maker, the distributor charges upwards 20 billion dollars, and you never see a penny of the percentages.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:19 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Managaka are kept on deliberately ridiculous schedules, spending +16 hours on their work in order to make their deadlines. I doubt she could have found time to get legal counsel while still meeting those deadlines.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:14 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Read the goddamned contract even if you are too busy!

    Let this be a lesson to all of us.

    Avatar of Pyrolight
    Comment by Pyrolight
    07:33 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (-0.2)

    This is basically it. She was stupid to agree to the sum and is now whining about it.

    Avatar of Juno
    Comment by Juno
    11:01 26/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Do not underestimate a mangaka's workload. A lot of them complain that they barely get a few hours (2-4) sleep a night, not even getting breaks to feed themselves, especially when deadlines get closer. When I visited a studio apartment in Japan to talk to a new amateur author I met at an art store, the group (her and her assistants) was nearing their second-ever deadline, and they all had blankets and coats sprawled out everywhere. They couldn't recall when they last actually went home. They had take-out noodle dishes all over the place because they had no time to actually sit down for a proper meal. The literally ate while they worked. Not to mention, the apartment was quite smelly and I believe it was due to their lack of hygeine in recent days. The only reason she allowed me to meet with her was because I told her I wanted to be a mangaka in the future. I was told to sit down and watch when I arrived. About three hours in, I was told to leave because my presence was a distraction and everyone was on a tight schedule. I never even got to speak with her again until I saw her at the store again, two months later.

    It does not surprise me that a mangaka is "too busy with work" to care about anything but making deadlines so they at least make SOME kind of money and aren't shifted off the magazine for a more reliable author.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:33 16/05/2014 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wish Niizuma Eiji was real...

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:27 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Like Juno said, mangaka have incredibely tight schedules. Unless you are a superstar who earn enough to release a chapter every two month, you will have to work like a beast and have very little time for anything else.
    Making a 19 pages long chapter in ONE WEEK is no joke, you have to do the scenario, the storyboard, send the storyboard to your editor, rework the storyboard, send it again, start working on the rought draft, send it, correct the rough draft (or redo it), and THEN you can actually finish it.

    That's for a weekly magazine, but when you work that much you are completely focused on your work and not on movie royalties.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:56 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Yeah well. That's really the problem of those that bow down to such unfair practises. It's a problem with the Japanese work-mentality and the general absence of self-respect/value.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:36 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I guess she just didn't expect that the movie would be such a hit and regreted it afterwards not demanding more.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:39 04/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Her thoughts were, "What an idiotic idea for a film adaptation. No one's going to see this!"

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:06 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sorry, I can't discuss how to earn money from you, I am busy earning my money from someone else...

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:21 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Well, there you have it, pro-copyright faggots.

    That what copyright true objective , ripoff artists and take away their rights while those parishes get all the profits.

    Comment by Anonymous

    This has pretty much nothing to do with copyright. >_>

    Avatar of Erranty
    Comment by Erranty
    10:57 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Always say "I want 10% of the Gross income." when selling your ideas.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:38 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    lel like they would have ever continued forward with the project for that amount.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:21 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    She does not have an option idiot, that the monopoly the while industry enforces.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:57 27/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    JK Rowling did? My respects for her just went up further.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:49 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, she was working ans according to herself, earned more from that work than the movie.

    Of course she had an option.

    Heard about J.K. Rowling? She was nearly broke when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. She turned DOWN publishers because she didn't like the offers they gave her. Despite being broke at the time.

    Avatar of Chen-04
    Comment by Chen-04
    18:55 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Alec Guiness only demanded 2% of the fifth that Lucas got from the box office takings for his role in Star Wars and see what that got him....

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:24 27/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Alec Guinness hated Star Wars anyway. And nothing of value was lost.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:12 04/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow that's a bad rate no wonder she mad an apple book

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:12 04/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, there you have it, pro-copyright faggots.

    That what copyright true objective , ripoff artists and take away their rights while those parishes get all the profits.

    "Thinks would have raked more making it herself lol"

    Avatar of AbelRYM
    Comment by AbelRYM
    14:43 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Wait... It's me or I have heard this kind of stories many many times?
    Afterall in the entertainment business they're all trying to farm and profit with everything, I'm pretty sure that they'll even use the diary of little girl to get a hit... oh wait, again~

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:38 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Could have been worse. She could have gotten an equivalent amount as George Romero got for Night of the Living Dead (ie, bupkis).

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:54 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Artists are screwed over by copyright-holders??? SHOCK!!

    Who knows. Tomorrow they might even come to the conclusion that "pirates" are not really all that harmful after all.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:21 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Uh, if those were Hollywood movies, they'd be lucky to get 1/10 of that amount. They should be leaping around with joy.

    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    06:24 26/02/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    That's true. In the US they tend to play shell games with accounting until it can be proven that the movie has yet to make a profit. The Star Wars and Harry Potter movies are good examples. The man who played Darth Vader (in body) still has no more payment than he had to come in and act because the movie still hasn't turned a profit!!!

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:30 03/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's okay because he's the leading sword fighting consultant in Hollywood. So he had a happy end.

    Comment by Anonymous

    you are missing 3 digits...

    she's getting 1/6000, NOT 1/6. so no, she shouldn't be leaping around with joy.

    Avatar of Pyrolight
    Comment by Pyrolight
    13:27 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    So not what he was saying.

    Avatar of Dia
    Comment by Dia
    23:21 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    She didn't get paid twice for her work? TOO FUCKING BAD

    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    07:00 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    She got screwed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:25 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    In more ways than one apparently. If you know what I mean.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:14 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is why you don't accept cash first, because to them it's like you were already paid off and you no longer have any say in the matter.
    Can alway sue, but we all know that studios win every time.

    Avatar of Red Vodka
    Comment by Red Vodka
    06:17 26/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    As much as I feel sorry for her, it's her fault for not taking enough time to negotiate. Although I do think that the publisher is a dick to not negotiate on behalf of their own mangaka.

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