In the first weekend since its Oscar win for best foreign-language film, Departures ascended to the number one position at the Japanese box office after re-entering the top ten last week in eighth place.
Departures earned $3.3m (Y320.5m) from 299,495 admissions on 189 screens in its 25th week of release. The film's total earnings have now surpassed $39.46m (Y3.84bn).
Compounding audience interest was Sunday's 'movie service day', which offers 1,000-yen tickets on the first of every month. The combination of factors saw week-on-week admissions increase five-fold.
Departures only ranked as high as fourth place in its initial release last September. No other film has ever reached the number one positionso late in its theatrical run, in another of Departures' numerous firsts.
Distributor Shochiku expanded Departures' extended run from 95 screens into a large scale 182-screen re-release following its Oscar win.
The film is expected to cross the $41m (Y4bn) threshold with no end in sight for the theatrical run. Released on September 13 2008 on 220 screens, Departures earned $31.24m (Y3.05bn) in its original release as Shochiku's biggest hit last year.
The media blitz has also led to ancilliary success, with a 15.17% surge in Shochiku's stock price from the week before.
Departures lead actor Masahiro Motoki learned about the trade his character plies in 2000 from Shinmon Aoki's 1996 book Noukanfu Nikki (Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician). Motoki then brought the project to Sedic International CEO Toshiaki Nakazawa after which TBS producer Yasuhiro Mase came on board. Yojiro Takita was hired to direct in 2006.
Due to sold out stock at book shops, publisher Bungeishunju has announced a extra run of 90,000 copies of Aoki's tome. Sales of a new hearse modeled on the one in the film have also been brisk.
Departures has won over 60 international and domestic awards, including major prizes in Montreal, China, Hawaii, Palm Springs and a sweep of the Japan Academy Prize awards last weekend.
Departures director Yojiro Takita recently completed follow-up film Sanpei The Fisher Boy, an adaptation of Takao Yaguchi's classic manga, which has sold over 40 million copies. Producer Toei will bring the film to Hong Kong's Filmart in March.
US distributor Regent Releasing, which picked up North American rights to Departures before the film's Oscar nomination, will open the film in selected cities this May. ContentFilm is handling international sales.