The Japanese box office jumped more than 17 percent to a record $2.39 billion (¥261 billion) in 2019, with admissions up more than 15 percent to 194,910, the highest attendance since 1971.
Despite a slowly shrinking population and the rise of streaming platforms, a very strong lineup of films, rising wage for younger citizens and more leisure time due to government work reforms all helped drive the record box office numbers.
Hollywood’s share rose slightly to 45.6 percent, its highest proportion since 2007, with imports enjoying an 18.4 percent boost in box office to $1.09 billion (¥119 billion), the highest figure since 2004.
It was a bumper year for Disney, which released the four top-grossing imports, led by Frozen 2 with $117 million, Aladdin pulling in $111 million, Toy Story 4 taking $92.5 million and Lion King, which brought in $63 million in Japan. Frozen 2 is still in theaters, falling from number one to three on last weekend’s box office charts.
Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You was the biggest hit of the year in Japan, with the director’s follow-up to smash hit Your Name pulling in $129 million.
Exports of Japanese films recorded a sixth consecutive year of record earnings, logging a 15 percent increase to $328 million. Average ticket prices rose just less than 2 percent to $12.30 (¥1,340), while the number of screens edged up to 3,583. The number films released in 2019 in Japan reached 1,278, up from 1,192 in 2018.
The figures also underline the fact that, even with the inevitable focus on China’s rise, Japan remains a billion-dollar market for Hollywood.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Disney; Warner Bros.
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