The winner of 2011 was Western films! Top grossing Western film – Harry Potter, top grossing Japanese film – Kokuriko Zaka Kara
The new year has arrived so let’s look back at the 2011 cinema box-office takings in Japan. Western films have been strong throughout the year and, much like the past few years, those that are part of a series have been the most popular.
Western films took the top two places this year. The number one spot for highest grossing film in Japan went to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II” which took around 9.62 billion yen (all box office takings in this article are calculated by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan using data up to the 27th November). This film was helped by the fact that it is the last in the series and was also released in 3D. In 2nd place was “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” taking around 8.84 billion yen. Japanese films entered at 3rd place with “Kokuriko Zaka Kara” which took around 4.42 billion yen, although this is a rather sad result when you consider that it is around half of the total takings of the two top Western films.
“Harry Potter” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” are both part of a series so it is not surprising that they have the power to draw in nearly 10 billion yen, but 2011 has been particularly good for Western films. In 4th place is “Transformers – Dark of the Moon” with around 4.24 billion yen, from 5th place is a run of Japanese films: “Gantz” around 3.45 billion yen, 6th “SP Kakumeihen” - around 3.33 billion yen, 7th “Sutekina Kanashibari” - around 3.24 billion yen, 8th “Meitantei Conan – Chinmoku no 15fun” - around 3.13 billion yen. Western films come back in 9th place with “Cars 2” taking around 3 billion yen.
With “Gantz: Perfect Answer” in 10th place taking around 2.8 billion yen, six of the top ten are Japanese films although when you consider the high takings of the top two films, Western films are the clear winners of 2011. However, if you look just at the rankings of Western films you can see that each one is part of a series:
1st Harry Potter and the Death Hallows – Part 2
2nd Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
3rd Transformers: Dark of the Moon
4th Cars 2
5th Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
As the number of films in a series increases, box-office takings usually decrease so efforts are made to find new subjects for films.
In the Japanese top ten many films are based on manga or TV series, considering the lead which Western films took in 2011, the next step is to change from a protective to a more aggressive stance. In addition, the Japanese top ten is composed entirely of films produced by Toho Co. Ltd. The so-called Hit Spiral of “box office revenue -> greater production cost -> production higher quality films & higher spend on advertising” is something other film production companies can only gaze at longingly. A strategy to break this spiral is needed so that the quality of the Japanese film industry can be improved as a whole.
Translator: me :) Please let me know if you think there are any mistakes!