Toho Co.

Tokyo

Revenue: $1.6 billion

Profit: $86 million

Toho got spirited away with a strong revenue increase of 22.1% during fiscal 2001 (ending on Feb. 28 for Toho), mostly thanks to its release of the Studio Ghibli-produced animated feature “Spirited Away.”

Consolidated net profits for the whole group rose a healthy 16.2% The film ended its theatrical run with over $240 million at the box office, beating all previous records, including those of “Titanic” and the Studio Ghibli-produced blockbuster “Princess Mononoke.”

These results, which took even Toho by surprise, prove once again that it is animation that makes the cash registers hum at the Japanese box office, something Japan’s biggest distributor knows well. Cinematic versions of popular TV shows also sell ducats, such as the hit comedy “The Work of a Nurse,” one of many joint ventures between Fuji Television Network and Toho.

The challenge will be to meet shareholders’ expectations this year when no major hit of “Spirited Away”-size dimensions appears on the horizon, although annual standard releases like “Pokemon” and the new Studio Ghibli production “Cat Returns” showed strong results during their summer releases.

To ensure more B.O. success, Toho named Hideyuki Takai as new president in late May.

The first test of the new slate of projects, all jointly financed with numerous partners, will be the highly anticipated sci-fi action drama “Returner,” which will be released at the end of this month. Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has acquired worldwide rights to the film, except Asia.

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