Japan's overall box office earnings for the first half of 2007 totalled $778.22m (Y92.52bn), a tiny 0.7% increase over 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 $194.13m (Y23.79bn), but managed only 75% of last year's take in the first six months.

Thus far, Toho has released 12 films that have grossed over Y1bn ($8.41m), 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 ($59.73m) and Suite Dreams ($51.15m), which were last year's highest-grossing domestic live-action titles, both released in the first half of the year. Toho had its most successful year ever in 2006 with earnings of $493.83m (Y58.7bn).

Toho's biggest hits so far this year have been the latest Doraemon film ($29.75m) followed by period action fantasy Dororo ($29m). Universal Pictures bought North American rights to Dororo in January.

Sony Pictures ranked second in earnings with just over half of Toho's take at $105.22m (Y12.51bn). While The Da Vinci Code ($76.12m) was Sony's only top ten 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 $93.04m (Y11.06bn), the bulk of it with current release Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, the first film of the year to break Y10bn. Current earnings are over $86m, surpassing last year's Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($84.19).

However, BVI has had no secondary hit in 2007, such as 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 Dejà Vu did not perform well.

Japanese major Shochiku earned $89.68m (Y10.66bn) 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 Y1bn. The studio has stayed away from releasing foreign titles in recent years.

Warner Brothers ranked fifth with grosses of $73.56m (Y8.74bn). WB 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 Warner has focussed solely on imports such as December release Letters From Iwo Jima ($42.9m), 300 ($12.6m) and Ocean's 13 (opening Aug 10).

Current hit Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, released July 20, has earned $18.85m. WB announced a final target of $126.20m (Y15bn), though each successive sequel in the series has earned less, with late 2005 entry Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire grossing $92.6m, paling in comparison to the original film's take of $170.92m.

Overall box office in 2006 reached $1.7bn (Y202.55bn), ranking as the third best year ever. Japanese films earned $907.12m (Y107.75bn) for a 53.2% market share, making it the most successful year for local films in the industry's history.

Japan 's Top 13 distributors (Jan-June 2007):

1. Toho - $194.46m

2. Sony Pictures - $105.12m

3. Walt Disney (BVI) - $93.13m

4. Shochiku - $89.59m

5. Warner Brothers - $73.58m

6. 20th Century Fox - $54.61m

7. UIP - $40.79m

8. Toei - $39.44m

9. Gaga Communications - $28.09m

10. Toho Towa - $25.91m

11. Asmik Ace - $13.64m

12. Showgate - $11.08m

13. Kadokawa Pictures - $9.35m