Japanese box office earnings for the first half of 2009 totaled $990.87m (Y93.9b), a 17.6.% increase over the same period last year.

The total — reported by local media industry publication Bunka Tsushin — represents grosses of the top 13 foreign and local distributors, accounting for approximately 95% of the market.

Local distribution giant Toho, its foreign film distribution subsidiary Toho-Towa, and Sony Pictures showed the biggest gains over the same period last year.

Toho distributed eight of the top ten local hits in the first half of 2009, including the year’s biggest overall earner Rookies, currently in seventh with over $80m to date. The latest Detective Conan installment ($36.83m), April Bride ($33.2m), Crows Zero 2 ($31.87m) and 20th Century Boys: Chapter Two ($31.76m) helped boost totals 25% over 2008.

Shochiku’s 2008 release Departures netted an additional $34.4m after its Oscar win earlier this year while Yatterman (co-distributed with Nikkatsu) took in $33.24m. However, weak returns for special effects heavy productions Kamogawa Horumo and Goemon led to losses for Shochiku’s film division.

Toho-Towa’s Red Cliff: Part II (co-distributed with Avex) is the biggest non-Japanese release of 2009 at $58.57m. Mamma Mia! ($27.44m), Changeling ($13.72) and Valkyrie ($13.2) propelled the company over $120m. Toho-Towa’s total earnings for 2008 were $149m.

Angels And Demons ($36.93m), Quantum Of Solace ($21.1m) and a large slate of small-medium releases easily pushed Sony Pictures past its first half of 2008, which lacked tentpole releases.

Warner and Disney each only had one hit in the top ten, seeing drops of over 50% in earnings from last year. Warner’s The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button earned ($25.33m) while late 2008 Disney release Wall-E ($42.21m) profited into 2009. Paramount Pictures’ earnings remained flat at $42.41m.

Japan - Top 13 Distributors (Jan-June 2009)
1. Toho $323.33m (Y30.64b)
2. Toho-Towa $122.62m (Y11.62b)
3. Shochiku $111.96m (Y10.61b)
4. Sony Pictures $94.13m (Y8.92b)
5. Toei $67.54m (Y6.4b)
6. Warner Brothers $50.97m (Y4.83b)
7. Paramount $42.21m (Y4b)
8. Kadokawa $41.89m (Y3.97b)
9. 20th Century Fox $41.68m (Y3.95b)
10. Gaga Communications $37.57m (Y3.56b)
11. Disney $34.3m (Y3.25b)
12. Asmik Ace $14.56m (Y1.38b)
13. Showgate $7.49m (Y710m)

(at exchange rate $1=Y94.7642)