3D screenings boost 'Umizaru' box office
3D tickets account for 73% of opening weekend $17 millionTOKYO -- Boosted by 3D screenings, "The Last Message -- Umizaru (sea monkeys) 3" has scored over 3.25 billion yen ($38.6 million) from over 2.1 million admissions in its first nine days at the box office.
The latest tale of elite Japan Coast Guard (the de facto navy) rescue divers had a huge opening over the September 18-20 three-day holiday weekend, with 940,000 admissions generating 1.43 billion yen ($17 million).
With "Umizaru..." released in both 3D and the original 2D versions, 68.7% of audiences have opted for the more expensive 3D experience, accounting for 73.2% for the box office.
The film, which was converted to 3D post-production, reportedly adding 50% to the budget, looks set to become the biggest local 3D earner so far. 3D Hollywood titles such as "Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Toy Story 3," have scored big in Japan, helping overseas films regain some of the earning-power they have lost to local productions in recent years.
"Test of Trust: Umizaru 2," was the highest grossing local live-action film of 2006, with 7.1 billion yen.
It was a bumper week for Toho, with "Umizaru..." continuing to top the box office, and high-school manga adaptation "Kimi ni Todoke (Reach You) and Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins," debuting in second and third place respectively.
Another Toho production took the fifth spot: "Akunin," (Villain) for which Eri Fukatsu won the best actress award at Montreal earlier this month, with talk of a Hollywood remake in the works.
"Resident Evil: Afterlife" -- known locally as "Biohazard 4 Afterlife," is the only foreign film in the top five, dropping down two places to fourth after its third week on release after its Tokyo world premiere at the beginning of the month.