TOKYO — “Too Young to Die,” the new comedy by veteran hit-maker Kankuro Kudo, premiered atop the Japanese box office this weekend. Released on 288 screens, with Toho and Asmik Ace distributing, the film earned $2.54 million on 188,028 admissions.

Telling the story of a cheeky teenager who finds himself in hell after a fatal bus accident, the film echoed a real-life tragedy: On January 15 of this year, a bus taking passengers to a ski resort ran off the road in mountainous Nagano Prefecture, killing 13 college students and two drivers. The news forced the distributors to cancel the film’s scheduled February bow. The resulting publicity, however, has hardly hurt “Too Young to Die’s” box office chances — its launch is the most successful start of any film’s in Kudo’s long career and is forecast to finish north of the $15 million mark.

The only other newcomer to the top 10, at number eight, was “Twisted Justice,” Kazuya Shiraishi’s black comic actioner about a corrupt cop in Hokkaido. Bowing on 178 screens, with Toei and Nikkatsu distributing, the film took $704,200 on 51,950 admissions in its opening frame and looks likely to reach the $5 million milestone.

Finally, in its 10th week on release, Disney’s “Zootopia” moved up a notch from number three to number two, while driving its cumulative total to $72 million on 5.57 million admissions.