×

The ‘Battle’ rattle

Controversial teen pic bows with OK B.O.

TOKYO — A controversial movie about teen violence scored a moderate opening weekend at the box office after exhibs ignored politicians’ pleas not to show it.

“Battle Royale” went out with a rare R-15 rating (no one under 15 admitted) on 200 screens and grossed 212 million yen ($1.88 million) over the Saturday to Sunday frame.

On the day the movie opened, a 17-year-old boy attacked commuters with a baseball bat outside a busy Tokyo commuter station, injuring eight people, one of them seriously.

It was the reaction politicians feared amid rising teen violence. The nation was stunned recently when a 17-year-old boy hijacked a bus, held a schoolgirl at knifepoint as a human shield and stabbed a women to death in a hostage standoff that was broadcast on national television.

A month later, another 17-year-old clubbed his mother to death because she would not give him pocket money.

Japanese politicians rarely comment on cinema content. But Education Minister Nobutaka Machimura met executives before “Battle Royale” opened and asked them to tone down future movies, while pols from ruling and opposition camps asked exhibs not to show the film.

Media interest

Despite the warnings and poor reviews, about 900 people lined up to see the opening show at producer Toei’s main theater as stars and director Kinji Fukasaku greeted the audience. The opening also made the news as about 150 members of the media covered the screening.

The film is set in an apocalyptic future in which the country is in a state of collapse and schools are marred by uncontrolled violence. The government organizes an annual Battle Royale, in which a class is pitted against itself on an abandoned island in a game of survival.

Toei officials hope the film will make $35 million at the box office.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]

  • MARIANA-RONDÓN-MARITÉ-UGÁS

    FiGa Snags 'Contactado,' By The Team Behind San Sebastian Winner 'Pelo Malo' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s FiGa Films has picked up worldwide sales rights to “Contactado,” the upcoming feature by Sudaca Films’ Marité Ugás and Mariana Rondón, the duo behind San Sebastian 2013 Golden Shell winner, “Pelo Malo.” The Sudaca partners are attending San Sebastian to pitch Rondón-helmed project “Zafari” at the 8th Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum. Directed by [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' Lifts Above Competition at International Box Office With $26 Million

    Though “Ad Astra” was overthrown by the Crawley family at the domestic box office, Brad Pitt’s astronaut drama reigned supreme at the international box office. Directed by James Gray, “Ad Astra” launched overseas with $26 million from 44 foreign markets. The $80 million sci-fi epic debuted in North America with $19.2 million, bringing global box [...]

  • hugh jackman tiff bad education

    Toronto's Biggest Deal Goes to HBO: A Sign of the Future? (Column)

    When it comes to how we’ll be watching movies — or, at least, watching serious dramas for adults — in the future, here are two stark and timely contradictory facts: 1. Last week, as the Toronto International Film Festival drew to a close, a deal that had been in the rumor stage for a while [...]

  • 'Talking About Trees' Helmer Suhaib Gasmelbari

    'Talking About Trees' Director Suhaib Gasmelbari Receives Variety MENA Award

    Suhaib Gasmelbari, whose Sudanese documentary “Talking About Trees” premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama section, received the Variety Middle East and North Africa Region Talent Award Saturday at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt from festival director Intishal Al Timimi. Variety critic Jay Weissberg, who selected the honoree, said that it is not usual that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content