'Kaiji' pushes 'Astro Boy' out of Japan

NTV productions lead weekend boxoffice

TOKYO -- The big boys continue to rule the Japanese boxoffice, with “Kaiji,” a Nippon Television Network and Toho collaboration, spending a second weekend at No. 1, while “Astro Boy” has rocketed out of sight after only a week in his spiritual home.

“Kaiji” took a solid $4 million in its opening weekend, when it ended a long run atop of another NTV production, “20th Century Boys 3.” NTV will no doubt be hoping its No. 1 ranking boosts interest in the film at the TIFFCOM market section of the Tokyo International Film Festival, where it’s screening Wednesday.

“The Rebirth of Buddha,” a domestic anime distributed by Toei, took second place in the Kogyo Tsushinsha admission rankings on its debut, while “Fast & Furions” (Toho Towa) dropped one spot to third. Two other Hollywood productions, “My Sister’s Keeper” (Gaga) and Disney’s ‘The Proposal,” round out the top five.

“Astro Boy,” this version known locally as “Atom,” has failed to capitalize on the enduring popularity of the manga and TV series in Japan, dropping out of the top 10 after just one weekend propping up the bottom of the chart.

Hong Kong’s Imagi, who spent around $65 million on the CGI-animation and a star-studded voice cast, will have been relying on a stronger showing in the Japanese market.

Japan’s first domestic 3D live-actioner, “Shock Labyrinth” by Takashi Shimizu (“The Grudge”) opened over the weekend, but with only around a hundred 3D screens nationwide, it was always going to struggle to crack the top 10.
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