Japan's Toho Studios is on track to reach its stated goal of Y60bn ($548.5m) in box office earnings this year, which would make it the most the successful year in the company's history.

Toho announced that in the first seven months of 2008 its releases earned $333.9m (Y36.52bn), a 26% increase over the same period last year. Toho was the territory's top earner in 2007 with $544.1m (Y59.51bn) as the company's best year ever.

Toho also released July figures of $111.2m (Y12.16bn), a 113% increase over the same month last year and breaking the one-month record set in 2001 during the release of all time box office champion Spirited Away.

The success is due to a combination of Toho's annual tent-pole animation franchises and current summer megahits such as Studio Ghibli's animation Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea ($65.63m), TBS' live-action Boys Over Flowers: Final ($58.78m) and Fuji TV's The Magic Hour ($35m).

Each year during the same holiday periods Toho releases a new entry in its five-tent pole animation franchise: Doraemon, Crayon Shinchan and Detective Conan in the spring; Pokemon and Naruto in the summer.

The 11-film Pokemon series recently cracked Y50bn ($457.1m) since the release of the first film in 1999, with the first film holding the record for the most successful Japanese release in the US, earning over $85m.

The annual set of Toho animation brings in a minimum of $100m, with each year increasing, and represents almost a quarter of Toho's revenues.

At 30 releases, 2008 is the largest slate Toho has taken on. Upcoming major summer releases include Detroit Metal City (Aug 23) and the first installment in NTV's 20th Century Boys trilogy (Aug 30).