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Japan B.O. golden

Bard pic romps in holiday frame; asteroid still a hit

TOKYO — Japan finished its Golden Week national holidays with one of the strongest lineup of films to hit the screens for the country’s third largest movie season.

Academy Award-winning best picture “Shakespeare in Love” opened Saturday on 210 screens nationwide and took in 516 million yen ($4.3 million) through the May 5 end of the holiday week, its distributor in Japan UIP said. After two years of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio movies dominating Golden Week, flaxen-haired Gwyneth Paltrow, became the top blonde in the Japanese movie market.

Shochiku-Fuji, set to close later this year as a part of corporate restructuring, had its last hurrah this Golden Week with two best picture nominees on its roster, scoring with “The Thin Red Line” (No. 1 movie in Japan last week — its first week of release; holiday B.O. figures weren’t available) and “Life Is Beautiful,” which has taken in about $2.5 million since its April 17 release.

Buena Vista Intl. was able to stretch the end of the world thriller “Armageddon” into the Golden Week season after its strong run starting over the New Year’s holiday. The movie is the highest-grossing foreign film of the year and has a box office of about $115 million during its nearly six-month run.

Going into Golden Week, BVI had three of the top spots on the Japanese top-10 list at the box office: “Armageddon,” Enemy of the State” and “A Bug’s Life.” All three films played over the holiday.

Sony’s “8MM” began its run on 166 screens last Saturday, and although the company did not yet have BO figures for the film, officials said attendance appeared high for the Nicolas Cage vehicle.