Toho's summer release of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) has smashed the four-day opening record set by the Japanese all-time box office champion, 1997's Princess Mononoke. Spirited Away, an animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki, who also directed Mononoke, grossed $15.8m (Y1.95bn) over the weekend and Monday, some 83% more than Mononoke's debut.
Toho, which released both Spirited Away and Mononoke, says that the new film, about a 10 year-old girl's search for her parents in a ghostly land, is on target to pass Mononoke's $157m (Y19.3 bn) box office total and challenge the all time record of $210.6m (Y25.9 bn) set by Titanic.
Toho managing director, Hideyuki Takai, told Screen Daily: "This is the beginning of an epoch-making run for Miyazakiís new film. It is difficult, however, to compare the two films directly because Princess Mononoke opened on 223 screens on July 12, before the start of the school summer vacation, while Spirited Away was released on 336 screens on the first weekend of the summer break."
Spirited Away also seems likely to out-distance the foreign summer competition, including Pearl Harbor and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence in the final box office tally.
The official four-day admissions figure for Spirited Away is 1,463,921. According to a company spokesperson, Toho has spent around Y500m ($4m) publicising thefilm, but that with additional marketing efforts from production partners, including the NTV network, the total "PR effect" was Y3bn ($24m).