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‘Memories’ lights up Toei’s year

Pic recorded $1.9 million in its opening weekend

TOKYO — After opening May 13, Ken Watanabe starrer “Memories of Tomorrow” has become distrib Toei’s biggest hit this year, with total gross expected to reach $23 million.

In its opening weekend, the pic recorded $1.9 million — 110% of the first weekend take for Watanabe’s last Hollywood starrer, “Memoirs of a Geisha” (Japanese gross: $14 million), and nearly as much as his previous Toei pic, the 2005 period drama “Year One in the North” ($25 million).

First-week total for “Memories” was $4.9 million on 460,000 admissions.

Helmed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (“Forbidden Siren”), “Memories of Tomorrow” stars Watanabe as a successful ad exec who, at age 49, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.

Watanabe, who also exec produced, promoted the film intensively in local media, speaking about his own struggle with leukemia since the age of 30. “He really put his heart and soul into this film — and he communicated that passion to the general public,” said a Toei rep.

Toei screened “Memories of Tomorrow” in the Cannes market.

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