Handy win for ‘Hancock’ in Japan

'Ponyo' continues march to B.O. history

TOKYO — “Hancock” opened top of the Japanese box office last weekend, raking in 830 million yen ($7.68 million) on 328 screens.

The total includes earnings from sneaks on Aug. 23 and 24. Distrib Sony Japan is forecasting a cume of $37 million.

 Star Will Smith has long been a B.O. draw in Japan with “I Am Legend” scoring $39.8 million, “Pursuit of Happyness” $25 million, “I, Robot” $34.7 million and “Men in Black II” $37 million.

 Coming in second, with $5.79 million in its opening weekend, was “20th Century Boys,” the first installment of a trilogy based on a popular sci-fi comic about a store manager who takes on the task of saving the world from a cult.

Distrib Toho plans to release the next installment in January. 

Hayao Miyazaki toon “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” fell from the No. 1 slot in its seventh week on release to No. 3, while continuing its march into Japanese B.O. history with a cume of $117.5 million as of Aug. 31. This makes it the fifth-highest grossing Japanese pic ever.

“Dark Knight” dropped to No. 10 in its fourth week on release with a cume of $13 million, a disappointing showing given its returns around the world but consistent with the franchise’s performance in Japan, which scored a hit only with Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman.”

“Women aren’t coming to see it, which is not the case with ‘Hancock,’ ” said Hiro Otaka, B.O. analyst for the Bunka Tsushin entertainment news service. “Also, Heath Ledger is not well known enough here to be a box office draw. Finally, Japanese generally don’t like dark films. Given all its negatives, its box office is really not that bad.”

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