Japan’s B.O. tops record

'Moving Castle' year's top earner

View top earners of 2004

TOKYO — Last year’s box-office receipts in Japan hit a record ¥210.9 billion, or just slightly over $2 billion at present exchange rates, 3.8% up on 2003.

Ticket sales were up 4.8% from 162.35 billion to 170 billion. This is partly due to the boost in screens from 2,681 in 2003 to 2,825 last year and the success of homegrown films, which secured 37.5% of the market, up 4.5% on 2003, according to Japan’s Motion Picture Producers Assn. (Eiren).

These include the year’s top earner, Hayao Miyazaki’s toon “Howl’s Moving Castle,” which has raked in $193 million so far.

Receipts from imported pics fell by 3.1% as several high-profile films disappointed. The top foreign grosser was “The Last Samurai,” with $132 million, followed by “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” with $130 million.

A total of 649 films were released, up from 622 in 2003.

Top 10 box office earners in Japan during 2004:

“Howl’s Moving Castle,” Toho, $193 million/20 billion yen (still in release)
“The Last Samurai,” WB, $132 million/13.7 billion yen
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” WB, $130 million/13.5 billion yen
“Finding Nemo,” BVI, $106 million/11 billion yen
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” Shochiku/Nippon Herald $99 million/10.3 billion yen
“Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World,” Toho, $82 million/8.5 billion yen
“Spiderman 2,” Sony Pictures Entertainment, $64.6 million/6.7 billion yen
“The Day After Tomorrow,” Fox, $50 million/5.2 billion yen
“Be With You,” Toho, $46 million/4.8 billion yen
“Pocket Monster 2004,” Toho, $42.4 million/4.4 billion yen