TOKYO — In 2004, Japan’s top 12 distributors domestically grossed a total of ¥194.4 billion, or $1.79 billion at the average exchange rate for last year, initial annual computations show.
Top performer was Toho Co. with ¥54.25 billion in gross receipts (27.91% market share), followed by Warner Bros. Japan (WBJ) with ¥33.95 billion(17.47% market share). WBJ could hold on to its crown as top distrib among the local branches of Hollywood majors. Buena Vista Intl. Japan followed in third place (¥20.9 billion), barely ahead of local major Shochiku in fourth (20.5 billion yen).
A 37.23% increase in box office revenues for Toho, Shochiku and Toei compared with the previous year shows Japanese films are regaining their audience: Toho and Toei distribute only local fare and Shochiku has increased its Japanese slate considerably, clocking some major successes during the past year.
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Shochiku alone more than doubled its box office revenue. Toho increased it by 28.64% without a major blockbuster like “Bayside Shakedown 2” in 2003, while Toei slipped 4.5%.
The take among the five Japanese branches of Warner Bros., Buena Vista Intl., 20th Century Fox, UIP and Sony Pictures increased by 5.79%. The biggest gainer was Sony, up 72.8% from 2003 results, while WBJ slipped 3%.
The generally stellar performance by top companies compares with a drastic decline in revenues among independent distribs Gaga/Humax, Nippon Herald, Asmik Ace and Toho Towa. Their combined B.O. revenue for 2004 fell by almost half (47.88%) compared with the previous year.
Eiren, the Motion Picture Producers Assn. of Japan, will announce the official total tally for all films early this week.