Japanese distributor releases 13 blockbusters

TOKYO — Japanese distrib Toho had a banner first half, releasing 13 pics that earned 1 billion yen ($9.6 million) or more, the traditional mark of a hit here.

Toho’s tally of 13 such movies amounts to one more than in the first half of 2007 and 10 more than in 2006.

 The leader was the 28th installment in the “Doraemon” toon series, which scored $32.4 million following its March bow.

Based on a popular comic by Fujio F. Fujiko, the toon features a 10-year-old boy and his pet cat — a time-traveling robot.

Second was the animal drama “Mari and Her Three Puppies,” which earned $30.4 million. The pic is based on a true story about a mother dog and her puppies who survived the devastating Chuetsu earthquake in Northern Japan in 2004.

Of the 13 movies, only three are toons. The rest are live-action pics, all of which were produced by TV networks and their consortium partners.

Of two pics still in release, Koki Mitani laffer “The Magic Hour” had earned $25.7 million by the end of June, on its 24th day on release. Meanwhile, romantic thriller “Boys Over Flowers” racked in $11.3 million by the same date, after only three days in the theaters. 

By July 11, the film had recorded $30.8 million and is likely to beat last year’s TV series-turned-hit pic “Hero,” which finished with a chart-topping $78.4 million.

 With a similarly strong sked lined up for the second half of this year, Toho looks likely to reach its box office target of $577 million for 2008.

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