Film huge hit with Japanese audiences

TOKYO — Sci-fi toon “Evangelion” topped the weekend B.O. with ¥280 million ($2.4 million) from 236,158 admissions — boffo numbers given that the pic was released Saturday and on only 84 prints.

Distrib Nikkatsu reported sold-out screenings across the country. Realizing that the originally skedded Cinema Square, a 224-seat theater in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, would not accommodate the crowds, Nikkatsu switched to the nearby, 1,046-seat Milano theater but still had standing-room-only crowds for all seven opening-day screenings.

The two-day total for the Milano was 12,500 admissions and $130,434. Other theaters around the country averaged $26,086.

Produced by toon house Gainax, pic is based on the first six episodes of a cult hit TV toon series from a decade ago that has been broadcast and sold on DVD widely abroad.

Prior to release, Nikkatsu kept the story top secret, fueling fan interest.

Movie is part one of a projected four-part series, all of which Nikkatsu plans to release theatrically.

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