Japanese box office earnings for the first half of 2010 totaled $1.09b (Y95.28b), a 1.5% increase over the same period last year.

The total – reported by local media industry publication Bunka Tsushin – represents the combined grosses of the territory’s top thirteen distributors of foreign and local films, accounting for approximately 95% of the market. Grosses of films released last December that continued earning into 2010 are also included.

Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros showed the biggest gains over the same six-month period last year.

Disney had two major hits that propelled it far above its 2009 year-end total. Alice In Wonderland grossed $135.43m (Y11.8b) in Japan, by far the second most successful international territory. December release Up added $57.4m (Y5b) to Disney’s total.

Fox moved into third place on the basis of Avatar, which grossed $177.9m (Y15.5b) in Japan for the world’s third largest take behind the US and China. As the studio’s only other major release, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief also contributed $15.95m.

Warner had a full slate, including medium-sized hits Sherlock Holmes ($24.7m), Clash Of The Titans ($18) and Sex And The City 2 ($19,55m, $16.1m until the end of June). Among Hollywood studios Warners was also the most active in releasing local language titles such as Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage and animated features.

Coming off of its best year ever in the territory, Sony Pictures plunged by 82% compared to the same period last year due to a focus on smaller and speciality titles and the underperformance of Did You Hear About The Morgans? Forthcoming Sony releases Salt, Karate Kid and Resident Evil: Afterlife will boost the second half of 2010.

While Avatar and Alice In Wonderland became the first Hollywood films to cross the $100m threshold since 2007 and imports may regain the majority market share they lost in 2008, the overall comeback has not fully materialized, with six of the top ten releases making below $30m.

Locally, studio Toei enjoyed a 10% uptick helped by the latest installment in its One Piece animation franchise earning $53.94m as the top film of the year. Among medium-sized distributors both Asmik Ace and Showgate approximately doubled their take.

As it has for most of the past decade, Toho as Japan’s largest distributor-exhibitor topped the list with $288.09m (Y25.1b) in revenues, albeit an 18% drop compared to last year. The studio distributed seven of the top ten local titles in the first half of 2010, led by two-part feature based on TV drama Nodame Cantabile ($101m combined) and annual installments in its animated Detective Conan and Doraemon franchises.

July hits Bayside Shakedown 3 and Studio Ghibli’s The Borrower Arrietty as well as upcoming titles Umizaru 3 (in 3D) and Space Battleship Yamato should add significantly to Toho’s year-end total.

Japan - Top 13 Distributors (Jan-June 2010)

1. Toho $288.09m (Y25.1b)

2. Disney $182.84m (Y15.93b)

3. 20th Century Fox $169.52m (Y14.77b)

4. Warner Brothers $118.91m (Y10.36b)

5. Toei $81.61m (Y7.11b)

6. Shochiku $62.67m (Y5.46b)

7. Paramount $42.01m (Y3.66b)

8. Gaga Corporation $36.15m (Y3.15b)

9. Asmik Ace $29.27m (Y2.55b)

10. Toho-Towa $29.27m (Y2.55b)

11. Showgate $22.5m (Y1.96b)

12. Sony Pictures $17.56m (Y1.53b)

13. Kadokawa $12.4m (Y1.08b)

(at exchange rate $1=Y87.1268)