Japan's overall box-office earnings for the first half of 2007 totalled $778.2m (Yen92.5bn), a tiny 0.7% increase from the same period last year, according to data from Japan's top 13 largest distributors.
Toho, Japan's largest distributor, topped the list with earnings of $194.1m (Yen23.8bn), but managed only 75% of last year's take in the first six months.
So far Toho has released 12 films that have grossed more than Yen1bn ($8.4m) - the industry's standard indicator of a hit - versus 10 films last year.
However, Toho has lacked megahits such as Fuji TV-produced Umizaru 2 ($59.7m) and Suite Dreams ($51.2m), which were last year's highest-grossing domestic live-action titles, both released in the first half of the year. The distributor had its most successful year ever in 2006 with earnings of $493.8m (Yen58.7bn).
Toho's biggest hits so far this year have been the latest Doraemon film ($29.8m) followed by period action fantasy Dororo ($29m). Universal Pictures bought North American rights to Dororo in January.
Following not so closely behind ...
Sony Pictures ranked second in earnings, with a little more than half of Toho's take at $105.2m (Yen12.5bn). While The Da Vinci Code ($76.1m) was Sony's only top 10 title last year, Spider-Man 3 ($58.2m), December release Casino Royale ($17m) and The Pursuit Of Happyness ($22.5m) have propelled Sony ahead of Buena Vista International (BVI) - last year's most successful foreign distributor.
Third-ranked BVI grossed $93m (Yen11.1bn), the bulk of it with current release Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, the first film of the year to break Yen10bn. Current earnings are more than $86m (Yen10.2bn), surpassing last year's Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($84.2m).
But BVI has had no secondary hit in 2007, to match last year's March release The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe ($57.7m) to add to its total. Other BVI releases such as The Guardian and Deja Vu did not perform well.
Japanese major Shochiku earned $89.7m (Yen10.7bn), with a consistent supply of mid-range hits such as December-released samurai drama Love And Honor ($33.6m), Tokyo Tower: Mom And Me And Sometimes Dad ($15m) and Gegege No Kitaro ($18.8m). Big-budget release Genghis Khan failed to interest critics or audiences, barely earning Yen1bn. The studio has stayed away from releasing foreign titles in recent years.
Warner Bros ranked fifth in the first half of the year, with grosses of $73.6m (Yen8.7bn). Warner was saved from a lack of big releases last year by its involvement in local successes such as the Death Note franchise and Brave Story. This year it has focused solely on imports such as December release Letters From Iwo Jima ($42.9m), 300 ($12.6m) and Ocean's 13 ($5.1m).
Current hit Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, released on July 20, has so far earned $52m (Yen6.1bn). Warner announced a final target of $126.2m (Yen15bn), though each successive sequel in the series has earned less, with late 2005 entry Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire grossing $92.6m (Yen10.9bn) - paling in comparison to the original film's take of $170.9m.
Overall box office in 2006 reached $1.7bn (Yen202.6bn), ranking as the third best year ever. Japanese films earned $907.1m (Yen107.8bn) for a 53.2% market share, making it the most successful year for local films in the industry's history.
|TOP 13 DISTRIBUTORS IN JAPAN (JANUARY-JUNE 2007)|
|Title (Origin)||Box office|
|2 Sony Pictures||$105.1m|
|3 Walt Disney (BVI)||$93.1m|
|5 Warner Brothers||$73.6m|
|6 Twentieth Century Fox||$54.6m|
|9 Gaga Communications||$28.1m|
|10 Toho Towa||$25.9m|
|11 Asmik Ace||$13.6m|
|13 Kadokawa Pictures||$9.4m|