The second installment in Warner Bros Japan 's Death Note franchise, Death Note 2: The Last Name, has surpassed the Y5bn ($41.2m) mark at the Japanese box office from more than 4.15 million admissions.

In a movie industry first, the sequel was released on Nov 4, following the first installment's airing on terrestrial TV less than six months after its theatrical opening. Other majors called the strategic move unfair.

Combined with the first film's earnings of $24.1m, the franchise has earned over Y8bn ($65.7m) to date.

In a record-setting 2006, six domestic films surpassed the Y5bn benchmark, with the Death Note sequel ranking fourth most successful homegrown title and the eighth overall. It also had the year's second best local opening.

Directed by special effects film veteran Shusuke Kaneko, who helmed the later Godzilla and Gamera entries, the films centre around a high school student who attempts to rid the world of evil through the use of a notebook with supernatural powers. Tsugumi Ohba's original manga on which the films are based have sold over 23 million copies and an animated TV series began airing last October.

Distributed and co-produced by Warner Bros Japan under president William Ireton, Death Note is part of a new mandate to acquire more Japanese films as well as step up local production to answer the increased popularity of domestic fare.