Live-action creature feature Kitaro has become producer-distributor Shochiku's highest-grossing first week release ever.

Released on April 28 on 339 screens, Kitaro earned $8.5m (Y1.02bn), achieving the standard Y1bn mark of a box office hit faster than any previous release in the studio's history.

Kitaro opened in the number two position, earning slightly less than the latest installment in the Detective Conan animated franchise in its second week of release, but beating out Oscar-nominated Babel , which bowed on 353 screens.

With a per screen average of more than $10,000 during the Golden Week holiday period, Kitaro held onto its number two ranking through the second weekend, topped by world dominator Spider-Man 3, released on May 1. Babel fell to fifth position, followed by another Shochiku hit, Tokyo Tower: Mom And Me And Sometimes Dad which also broke the Y1bn barrier in its fourth week.

Kitaro (original title GeGeGe No Kitaro) is directed by Katsuhide Motoki and stars Wentz of pop duo WaT. The film is based on the famed manga and animated character created by Shigeru Mizuki about a half human-half yokai who protects people from ghosts and monsters.

Kitaro features CG effects created by leading houses around the world, led by Hong Kong 's Centro Digital Pictures (Kill Bill, Shaolin Soccer).