Japan b.o. sets second consecutive record

2009 total take up 5.7% to $2.3 bil

TOKYO -- Japanese films enjoyed a second all-time record boxoffice year in a row in 2009, clocking up ¥117.3 billion ($1.3 billion), and pushing the total annual take back over the ¥200 billion mark.

The overall boxoffice grew 5.7% to 206 billion ($2.3 billion), on 169.3 million admissions, up 5.5%.

Domestic productions -- led by high school baseball movie "Rookies," which grossed ¥8.5 billion ($95 million) -- outsold foreign competition 57% to 43%.

Revenues for overseas films actually recovered solidly, up 12.3% to ¥88.7 billion ($982 million), after a weak 2008. However, this remains far off their 2002 peak when they pulled in ¥143 billion. Japanese films have more than doubled their combined grosses over the same period.

There were 34 local productions that broke the billion-yen ($11 million) barrier. That number doesn't include "Okuribito" ("Departures") which, though released in 2008, raked in more than half of its ¥6.5 billion total in 2009 following its Oscar win. Nor does it include any of the revenue from "Red Cliff II"-- the second biggest imported film with ¥5.6 billion -- heavily invested in by domestic music powerhouse, Avex.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was the biggest foreign hit, with ¥8 billion ($88.6 million).
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