The biggest battle of the Japanese holiday season is between The Last Samurai and Finding Nemo - and so far it's hard to call a winner. The opening round went to Finding Nemo, which set a new record for opening weekend box office with Y1,116,203,900 ($10,431,812) on 900,447 admissions and 720 screens. This compared with The Last Samurai's Y902,354,300 ($8,433,218) on 622,237 admissions and 550 screens.

After week one, however, The Last Samurai surged into the lead on the nine major cities chart, with Y295,807,400 ($2,738,957) on 28 screens for a $97,820 screen average. Meanwhile Finding Nemo recorded Y239,937,000 ($2,221,638) on 30 screens for a $74,055 average.

The Last Samurai also finished slightly ahead in the Pia magazine weekly "audience satisfaction" poll, with a leading 92.9 score, compared with 89.5 for Finding Nemo. The demographics skewed differently as well, with the Tom Cruise samurai drama scoring high with middle-aged men ("The film made me feel the strength of the Japanese spirit" commented one 66-year-old), the Pixar animation with young women ("I was so moved I couldn't stop crying," said a 21-year-old student).