×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hollywood Enjoys Rare Dominance of Japan Box Office in First Half Year

Bucking a decade-long box office trend toward local films, Hollywood dominated the Japanese movie-going in the first half of 2018. But the respite in the world’s number three theatrical market may not last.

The number one and two films for the January-June period, “Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer” ($76 million) and “Doraemon the Movie: Nobita’s Treasure Island” ($47 million), were local and the new entries in long-running anime series. Counting the $34 million for number five “Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme-d’Or-winning family drama, Japanese films in the top ten earned a total of $157 million. That compares with the $209 million earned by the seven Hollywood films in the top ten.

Hollywood’s successes were an eclectic bunch. Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” beat any of the franchise titles, earning $48 million. “The Boss Baby” earned $30.7 million for Toho-Towa, making Japan the number two international result for the Fox comedy.

The top foreign distributor for the first half was Disney, which released number two “Coco” ($43 million) and number six “Avengers: Infinity War” ($32.5 million), the highest-earning Marvel comics movie and the only one in the top ten. Among Disney’s disappointments were “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which took $15 million, and “Black Panther,” which could only manage $13 million.

One factor in the poor Japanese score was the relative weakness of releases by Toho, for decades Japan’s leading local exhibitor and distributor. “Conan” and “Doraemon” were both Toho releases, but “Shoplifters” – the top-ranking Japanese live-action film, was handled by Gaga. Toho’s highest-earning live-action release, the high school drama “Chihayafuru Part 3,” made a so-so $14 million to finish at number 15.  All in all, Toho accounted for seven of the top twenty, the most of any local distributor.

Japanese fans traditionally focus their film-going on peak holiday periods, including the upcoming school summer vacation (Japanese kids are in school until the latter part of July and return at the end of August. Distributors adjust their release schedules accordingly.

On July 20, Toho will open its biggest anime of the summer – and possibly the year: Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai of the Future.” Based on Hosoda’s original script, the film relates the adventures of a four-year-old boy who meets his time-traveling future sister.  The box office for Hosoda’s films has grown steadily with each release since his 2006 breakthrough “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” culminating with “The Boy and the Beast,” which made $52 million in 2015. With its family-friendly story and characters, “Mirai” has the potential to do even better.

Among live-action summer releases, a stand-out is “Code Blue,” an action drama about a medical helicopter team. Backed by the Fuji TV network and based on a hit Fuji TV series, the film is set for a July 27 bow with Toho distributing. Backers expect a box office of $30 million or more.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Japan, the leader in local production among Hollywood distributors, will release “Bleach” on July 20. Based on a best-selling comic (120 million paperback volumes) the film stars Sota Fukushi (“Blade of the Immortal”) as a teenager thrown into a life-and-death struggle with supernatural forces.

Warner is also distributing “Gintama 2,” the sequel to Yuichi Fukuda’s wacky period comedy of last year. With earnings of $34 million, “Gintama” was 2017’s biggest Japanese live-action hit. But, like most sequels, “Gintama 2” may struggle to equal that success following its August 17 bow.

The summer ‘s big local movie could be “Pokemon the Movie: Everyone’s Story.” Released on July 15 on 373 screens by Toho, this 21st installment in the long-running anime series made $4.4 million on its opening weekend, nearly the same as the previous “Pokemon” title, which finished with a sterling  $31.5 million last year.

Significantly, “Bleach,” “Gintama 2” and “Pokemon” are all backed by the TV Tokyo network, whose president recently told the press that he expects this trio to make a total of $100 million. Whatever the relative fortunes of its distributors, TV Tokyo looks likely to enjoy a happy and prosperous summer.

More Film

  • Woolsey Fire Malibu

    Many Malibu Areas Still Off-Limits for Filming After Fire

    The California Film Commission has maintained its ban on filming in several Malibu areas hit by the massive Woolsey fire in Southern California last month. The commission announced Tuesday that due to continued clean-up and repair work along Pacific Coast Highway, permits for filming on the highway are not being issued at this time. PCH [...]

  • Against the Clock

    Film News Roundup: Andy Garcia's Spy Thriller 'Against the Clock' Bought by Gravitas

    In today’s film news roundup, Andy Garcia’s spy thriller is sold, “Battlestar Galactica” gets a screenwriter, and Brooklyn Decker gets an award. ACQUISITION Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to spy thriller “Against the Clock,” starring Andy Garcia, Dianna Agron (“Glee”), and Justin Bartha, Variety has learned exclusively. The film, formerly titled “Headlock,” is [...]

  • 'Pacific Rim Uprising' film premiere

    John Boyega in Talks to Star in Legal Drama 'A Naked Singularity'

    “Star Wars” actor John Boyega is in talks to star in the legal drama “A Naked Singularity” with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions on board to produce. The movie is based on Sergio De La Pava’s debut novel, which centers on a successful New York public defender whose life begins to unravel after he loses [...]

  • Penny Marshall Dead Obit

    Remembering Penny Marshall, Who Forged Her Own Path and Paved the Way for Others

    She was a natural comedian — fearless and funny, willing to trade on her natural Bronx brogue to craft a sassy and street-wise character that was tailor-made for sitcoms. But Penny Marshall, who died Monday night at the age of 75, proved throughout her long career that she had so much more in the way [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Outpacing 'Wonder Woman' in Fandango Pre-Sales

    Pre-sales of “Aquaman,” which opens on Thursday night, are outpacing “Wonder Woman” at the same point in the advance ticket sales cycle on online ticketer Fandango. “Wonder Woman” opened with $103 million domestically during the June 2 to June 4, 2017, weekend on its way to a $412 million North American total for Warner Bros. “Aquaman,” [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    Europe, Hollywood Hail Landmark E.U. Territorial Licensing Agreement

    Industry organizations and major companies in Europe and Hollywood welcomed Tuesday a high-level European Union agreement that in large part preserves producers’ ability to sell movies and TV shows on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis. Territorial licensing is a financial backbone of the film and TV business in Europe. Recognition of such licensing came last Thursday in [...]

  • Box Office: 'Aquaman,' 'Mary Poppins Returns'

    Box Office: 'Aquaman' Battles 'Mary Poppins Returns' in Crowded Holiday Weekend

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the most competitive time at the multiplexes. This weekend sees two very different heroes vying for the box office crown with “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns” both eyeing sizable debuts. “Mary Poppins Returns” is getting a head start by opening on Wednesday, though estimates show “Aquaman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content