Overall box office revenue for 2011 totalled $2.36bn (Y181.2bn), a steep drop of 18% from 2010; local films declined by 16%.

The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren) has reported overall box office revenues for 2011 totaling $2.36bn (Y181.2bn), a steep drop of 18% from 2010’s record-breaking $2.88bn (Y220.74bn). 

The total represents earnings on 144.73 million admissions compared with 2010’s 174.36 million, a slightly smaller decrease of 17% due to less admissions for higher-priced 3D releases.

Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II, the final chapter in the series, was the most successful release of 2011 grossing $126.08m, with Part I of the finale ranking third at $89.44m. Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides landed in second with $115.65m.

Sequels to Transformers, Cars and The Chronicles Of Narnia trailed far behind, though in line with earnings on previous installments.

2011’s 20% fall in box office returns for imports follows the territory’s highest-ever grossing year which saw Avatar, Alice In Wonderland and Toy Story 3 gross a combined $498m (Y38.2b). Conversely, none of last year’s releases broke the Y10b mark.

Local films also experienced a severe decline of 16% due to a lack of large hits, with no film breaking Y5b for the first time in 11 years.

Studio Ghibli’s From Up On Poppy Hill was the domestic leader with only $58.15m, less than half of the studio’s 2010 offering The Borrowers. Original comedy A Ghost Of A Chance ($55.8m), Space Battleship Yamato ($53.46m) and the two-part Gantz films ($81.76m combined) were among the top ten.

Annual entries in the animated Pokemon, Detective Conan and Doraemon franchises all earned in line with previous years, helping local films hold onto a majority share of 54.9%.

While Japanese studio heads acknowledged the March 11 disaster’s effect on exhibition, they emphasized the lack of megahits as the main factor behind the year’s poor performance.

“Releases were weak all around. People’s tastes and how they use their time is changing. The film world needs a boost,” commented Shochiku CEO Junichi “Jay” Sakomoto. Toei president Yusuke Okada echoed the sentiments. “It’s clear that audiences are growing tired of the multiplex scene. We have to come up with something new to attract people.”

The disaster caused the loss of 40 screens in eastern Japan (out of an overall 73 closures across the country), a string of delayed and cancelled releases and reduced showtimes due to energy concerns. The drop in screen count, to 3,339 from 3,412, is the first in 18 years since multiplex construction began in the early 90s. Nonetheless digital conversion has continued at a brisk pace, currently standing at approximately 60% of screens with 29% 3D-capable.

Post-disaster exhibition woes led to a spike in video rentals for several months, with dominant chain Tsutaya enjoying a 6.9% increase in rentals for its most successful year ever.


Top Grossing Films of 2011

Title                                                                         Distributor              Gross

1. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II    Warner                    $126.08m (Y9.67b)

2. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides      Disney                     $115.65m (Y8.87b)

3. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I     Warner                    $89.44.m (Y6.86b)

4. From Up On Poppy Hill (Studio Ghibli)                              Toho                       $58.15m (Y4.46b)

5. Pokemon                                                            Toho                        $56.45m (Y4.33b)

6. A Ghost Of A Chance (Fuji TV)                           Toho                        $55.8m (Y4.28b)

7. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon                         Paramount                              $55.41m (Y4.25b)

8. Space Battleship Yamato (TBS)                           Toho                        $53.46m (Y4.1b)

9. Gantz (NTV)                                                        Toho                        $44.98m (Y3.45b)

10. SP: The Motion Picture II (Fuji TV)                  Toho                        $43.42m (Y3.33b)

1 USD = 76.7 JPY