Japan box office in summer daze

Local features cause receipts to tumble

Japan’s summer box office fell sharply compared with last year, when local pics powered admissions, but Hollywood pics have continued to perform well.

July B.O. totaled ¥12.659 billion ($112 million), down 24.4% drop from $148 million in July 2006. Admissions fell 19.6% year on year, according to the survey conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

B.O takings for May and June were down by 7.1% and 13.5%, respectively. Admissions for the three-month period slid 18.2%.

The poor showing by local pics was the main reason for the sorry numbers, with Japanese product suffering a 41.4% B.O. plunge in July vs. last year.

No Japanese summer pic could match the stupendous perfs of last year’s July releases “Tales From Earthsea” ($67.7 million total) and “Sinking of Japan” ($42.2 million). The May live-action release “Umizaru 2: Test of Trust” also raked in the yen last year, finishing with $62.8 million.

Foreign pics recorded only a 3.2% year-on-year drop in July, buoyed by strong numbers from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”

Among Japanese movies in July,  toons performed best, with the genre finishing only 11.2% behind last year. The leader was the 10th “Pokemon” feature, which is closing in on $44.2 million following its July release.

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