Japan's Toho Studios, the territory's largest distributor, has reached combined box office earnings of Y60.01bn ($599.4m) in the first nine months of 2008.

The figure sees Toho have its best year in history for the third year in a row, topping its previous earnings of Y59.51bn ($594.3m) last year. Toho stated the Y60bn goal in December, backed by a slate of 29 films, its largest to date.

September earnings of Y7.8bn ($77.9m), its highest ever for the month, pushed it over the line with the nine month total 42% higher than for the same period last year.

Toho currently has five titles in the top ten, including Fuji TV's Suspect X in the pole position with earnings of $15.29m, Paco And The Magical Picture Book in third ($18.72m), NTV's 20th Century Boys ($35.96m) and TBS' Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit ($5.36m).

After thirteen weeks in the top ten, Studio Ghibli's Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea has earned $145m since its July 19 release as the highest grossing release of the year.

Upcoming releases this year include: Fuji TV's airline comedy Happy Flight (Nov 15); TBS WWII drama I'd Rather Be A Shellfish (Nov 22); the second Tamagotchi feature film (Dec 20); and NTV's K-20: Legend Of The Mask (Dec 20), starring Takeshi Kaneshiro.