3D pics help set record total gross of $2.69 billion

TOKYO — The Japanese box office set an all-time record last year with a total of $2.69 billion for a 7% gain over the previous year, according to figures announced on Thursday by the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan (Eiren).

The previous best was $2.57 billion recorded in 2004.

Admissions rose 3% to 174.35 million. Much of the B.O. gain was attributed to higher 3D ticket prices.

The B.O. for local pics rose 0.8% to $1.44 billion, while the corresponding figure for foreign pics was $1.25 billion for a year-on increase of 15.5%. This rise was attributed to the outstanding numbers turned in by the three 3D pics, “Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Toy Story 3,” all of which passed the $100 million mark.

Meanwhile, for the home team, the top three B.O. pics were the Studio Ghibli toon “The Borrowers” ($113 million), the sea epic “Umizaru 3″ ($98 million) and the cop thriller “Bayside Shakedown 3″ ($89 million), with the latter two being produced by the Fuji TV network.

A total of 716 pics were theatrically released last year: 308 foreign and 408 Japanese, with 59 of the latter classified as adult. This was the third year in a row that the number of Japanese pics topped foreign, but 408 was 46 fewer than in 2009. Meanwhile, the number of screens rose by only 16 to 3,412, indicating that the building boom for multiplex sites has cooled.

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