Japanese B.O. rises 5.7% to $2.29 bn

Total is second-highest annual figure ever

TOKYO — The Japanese B.O. reached its second-highest ever total in 2009 — $2.29 billion — according to figures compiled by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan.

This B.O. total was 5.7% higher than last year’s. The record year is still 2004, when the annual B.O. hit $2.33 billion.

Meanwhile, the number of admissions rose 5.5% year-on to 169,297,000.

Japanese pics grabbed a 56.9% B.O. share, the second year in a row that they have beaten the foreign competition. A total of 448 local pics were released in 2009, compared with 314 foreign. This is the highest number since 1991, when 467 local pics bowed. The B.O. was topped, at $95 million, by “Rookies,” a high-school baseball dramedy based on a hit TBS drama.

A total of 34 local pics earned 1 billion yen ($11.1 million) or better — the mark of a B.O. hit for a commercial pic in the Japanese market — while only 22 foreign pics achieved this milestone.

The highest-earning foreign pic was “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” with $88.9 million.

The number of screens grew by only 37 to 3,396, an indication that once-booming multiplex construction has hit a ceiling.

Meanwhile, the number of 3D screens rose to 351.

Finally, retail store sales of video software, including rental store sales, fell 9.7% year-on to $3.62 billion. The number of rentals slid 1.6% to 685,990,000.

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