Japan had more films to watch and more screens to watch them on in 2000, but the country that pays the world's highest ticket prices for the privilege declined. According to the Motion Picture Association of Japan (Eiren), box office fell by 6.5% last year to $1.47bn (Y171bn).

Despite this, the box office share of Japanese films held steady at 31.8%, compared to 31.9% in 1999. The number of Japanese titles released rose by 12 to 282, compared to 362 foreign films, up 64 over the previous year.

Fuelled by the boom in multiplex construction, the number of screens rose from 2,211 in 1999 to 2,524 last year, an increase of 313. But given the decline in box office revenues, many multiplex operators had trouble filling all the new seats. Construction is expected to slow, although total screens should reach the 3,000 mark before levelling off.

Meanwhile Eiren also reported that its members and their group companies exported a total of 113 titles in 2000, which earned $59,535,000 from all sources, including theatrical, video and TV rights. Comparable figures for 1999 were 85 titles and $52,585,000, though these were taken from the 20 largest film companies and not all Eiren members.

A total of 18 domestic and 30 foreign films grossed more than Y1bn ($8.6m) in 2000, led by Mission: Impossible 2, with Y9.7bn ($83.6m); followed by The Green Mile (Y6.5bn or $56m); the third Pokemon movie (Y4.85bn or $41.8m); Perfect Storm (Y3.7bn or $31.9m); domestic thriller Whiteout (Y4.2bn or $36.2m), Toy Story 2 (Y3.45bn or $29.7m), End Of Days (Y3.14bn or $27.1m) and the last installment of the enduringly popular Doraemon animation series (Y3.05bn or $26.3m).

Of the domestic distributors, Toho had 10 films that grossed above the Y1bn mark, including seven of the top ten, followed by Toei with six and Shochiku with two. On the foreign film side, UIP and Buena Vista both had five titles grossing more than Y1bn, followed by Warner, Sony and Fox, with four each.