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Japanese B.O. down 6%

Total take of foreign films slid 11.7%, to $995 million.

TOKYO Total B.O. fell 6% to Y198,160 million ($1,693 million) in 2005 in the Japanese market, while admissions dropped 5.7%, to 160,453,000, according to figures announced on Tuesday by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren). Only one film released in 2005, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” passed the $85.5 million mark, hitting $98 million.

Absent strong tentpoles, the total take of foreign films slid 11.7%, to $995 million. The strong performance of Korean films, led by “A Moment to Remember” ($25.6 mollion) and “April Snow” ($23.5 million) pointed up the overall weakness of the Hollywood competition. Among Hollywood distributors, Warner led the pack with three films in the top ten, including number one “Harry Potter.” UIP also claimed three top ten spots, including number three “War of the Worlds.” Of the indies, Gaga Usen hit the biggest jackpot with “Phantom of the Opera” ($35.9 million), “Shall We Dance?” ($21.4 million) and “A Moment to Remember.”

Boosted by a string of live action hits, domestic films gained 3.4% to $699 million, while grabbing a 41.3% market share — the first time they passed the 40 percent mark in eight years, when Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 smash “Princess Mononoke” lifted the local B.O.

The number of Japanese films released gained 46 from the year before, to 356, while foreign releases grew by 36 to 375, for a total of 731, the highest since 1989. Of this number, 26 Japanese and 36 foreign films passed the $8.5 million B.O. mark.

The video market continued to soften with retail sales dropping 5.0% to $3.911 billion, while the number of film rentals grew 1.9% to 769,120,000.

The number of screens rose for the twelfth consecutive year to 2,926, for a gain of 101 over 2004. Multiplexes account for 67% of this total. Eiren chairman Isao Matsuoka noted that attendance did not keep up with screen growth in 2005, but that “(fans) are still watching films with enthusiastic eyes. We want to shoot for a target of 200 million admissions this year.”

Top five Japanese films for 2005

Title/Gross ($)/Distributor

1. * Howl’s Moving Castle/ Y19.6 b ($167.5 m)/ Toho

2. Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation/ Y4.3 b ($36.8 m)/ Toho

3. The Negotiator/ Y4.2 b ($35.9 m)/ Toho

4. Nana/ Y4.03 b ($34.4 m)/ Toho

5. The Suspect/ Y3.83 b ($32.7 m)/ Toho

* Released in December, 2004

Top five foreign films for 2005

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/ Y11.5 b ($98.3 m)/ Warner

2. Star Wars Episode 3/ Y9.17 b ($78.3 m)/ Fox

3. War of the Worlds/ Y6.0 b ($51.2 m)/ UIP

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/ Y5.35 b ($45.7 m)/ Warner

5. *The Incredibles/ Y5.26 b ($44.9 m)/ Buena Vista

* Released in December, 2004

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