Local pics account for 53% of business for 2006
Japanese pics will grab a majority share of the local B.O. in 2006 — the first such victory in 21 years — according to figures released by the Motion Picture Producers Assn. of Japan, also known as Eiren.From January to the end of November, Eiren has reported, total B.O. in Japan was $1.48 billion, with local pics accounting for $792.4 million, or 53%. Given the strong showing of Japanese pics so far in December, Eiren predicts they will finish the year over the ¥100 billion ($847.5 million) mark. Local pics took $692 million in 2005, or 41.3% of the $1.69 billion total. Since total B.O. is expected to remain about the same this year, the share of Japanese pics will easily exceed 50%. No Japanese pic has passed the $85 million mark this year, but six have scored $42 million or more, topped by Studio Ghibli toon “Tales From Earthsea” at $65 million, the sea actioner “Umizaru 2: Test of Trust” ($60 million) and Koki Mitani’s comedy “Suite Dreams” ($52 million). This month local B.O. got a boost from “Love and Honor,” a samurai drama by vet helmer Yoji Yamada that has scored $14.4 million since its Dec. 1 bow and is on track to become the biggest hit in Yamada’s four-decade career. Meanwhile, Hollywood pics have been struggling beyond a handful of blockbusters, led by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which won the summer — and the year — with a B.O. take of $88 million.