Japan Box Office: Disney Continues Record Run With 'Maleficent'

1:15 AM PST 07/23/2014 by Gavin J. Blair
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
"Maleficent" is helping to make 2014 a bumper year for Disney in Japan.

Following the 16-week run of "Frozen," Disney has now topped the Japanese box office since mid-March, while the latest release from animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli opens in the third spot.

TOKYO — Disney spent its 19th straight week atop the Japanese box office, with Maleficent holding on to first place ahead of the latest Pokemon movie after a three-day weekend with a crowded release schedule. When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie), the latest Studio Ghibli production, opened in a disappointing third place despite being released at the start of school summer vacations, news that does not bode well for anime powerhouse Hayao Miyazaki.

Maleficent took another $4.7 million (¥480 million) on Saturday and Sunday, with another $2.4 million on Monday, raising its total in Japan to $32 million (¥3.28 billion) after three weekends in theaters. The combined 19 weeks for Frozen and Maleficent is a record for Disney. Historical data is not available for Titanic's run, which began in December 1997 for Twentieth Century Fox following its world premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Titanic grossed ¥26.2 billion in Japan, $258 million at today's exchange rates, second only to Miyazaki's Spirited Away, with ¥30.4 billion ($300 million).

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Disney stable mate Frozen, which Maleficent unseated from the top of the rankings, dropped to the eighth spot from fourth but remains in theaters despite its record-breaking home entertainment release on July 16. Frozen added another $1.5 million over the long weekend to take its box-office total to $248 million (¥25.1 billion) after 19 weeks.

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Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, is the 17th theatrical release from the franchise and pulled in $3.88 million (¥393 million) from 357 screens on Saturday and Sunday. Pokemon actually beat Maleficent in admissions 360,000 to 350,000, leading local rankings to place it on top but lost on takings due to the lower number of more expensive adult tickets sold.

When Marnie Was There, written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, collected $3.74 million (¥379 million) in third place from 461 screens, close behind the Pocket Monsters. It was the first project announced by Studio Ghibli since co-founder Miyazaki confirmed his retirement last year and will inevitably raise questions about the ongoing success of the studio without its Oscar-winning maestro.

The latest installment of Masked Rider (Kamen Rider), a live-action kids' hero franchise, bowed in fourth with $1.67 million (¥170 million) from 309 screens. Tom Cruise-starrer Edge of Tomorrow, released in Japan as All You Need Is Kill — the title of the Japanese novel it's based on — fell to fifth on its third weekend in cinemas.

Planes: Fire & Rescue, another Disney release in what is becoming a bumper year for the studio in Japan, opened on 313 screens with $762,000 (¥77 million).

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

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