The Japanese box office leaped by 17% in 2019 to set a record $2.4 billion score, according to figures announced Tuesday by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, locally known as Eirin. The previous high was the $2.2 billion recorded in 2016.
The Makoto Shinkai animation “Weathering with You” was the highest earning film among both local and foreign releases with a gross of $129 million.
Local films took a majority share with 54% or $1.3 billion, while foreign films grabbed a 46% share or $1.1 billion. The market share split was little changed from 2018.
Once again industry leader Toho accounted for the lion’s share of the box office, having handled seven of the top ten local films, including the period actioner “Kingdom” that it co-released with Sony. The other three were released by a resurgent Toei.
Total admissions rose 15% to 195 million, outstripping the growth in the number of operational screens, which edged up from 3,561 the year before to 3,583. The number of film releases increased slightly to 1,278 with Japanese films accounting for 689 and foreign titles 589.
Among foreign films, the highest earner was “Frozen 2” with $117 million. Disney releases accounted for six of the foreign film top ten, including numbers two through four: “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4” and “The Lion King.”
In all, 25 foreign films passed the one billion yen ($9.15 million) mark considered the measure for a commercial hit. By comparison, 40 Japanese films attained this milestone.