Distributor Toho opened the film on 409 screens for strong per screen averages of $12,900. Toho predicts a final take of $43m.
Gokusen stars Yukie Nakama as the granddaughter of a yakuza boss who fulfills her dream of being a teacher at an all-male high school, handling a class of delinquents.
Based on a manga by Kozueko Morimoto, Gokusen spawned a successful Nippon Television Network series also starring Nakama, with seasons aired in 2002, 2005 and last year.
NTV also produced an animated version in 2004. The film features cast members from recent and past seasons and marks the final time the actress will play the red track-suited icon.
Animated hit Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance moved into second after two weeks in first place, earning over $16m thus far.
Toho-Towa distributed Knowing, which opened in third place, while Paramount’s Monsters Vs. Aliens opened in seventh place. The film’s 135-screen opening is the widest ever 3D release in the territory. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen fell from third to fifth.
Big screen “blow ups” of hit TV shows continue to help broadcasters shore up rapidly decreasing ad revenues, which have plummeted five years in a row, dropping 4.4% in 2008.
Toho released another TV adaptation, TBS’ Rookies, on 428 screens in late May grabbing $13m on its first two days. Still ranking fourth, it is currently the highest grossing film of 2009 amassing $80m so far.
Despite such adaptations being a fixture at the top end of year-end box office rankings they rarely generate major sales or box office overseas.