'Tangled,' 'Megamind' Releases in Limbo in Japan
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan will severely restrict theatrical box office in the world's second-biggest territory this weekend, denying significant revenue to Academy Award winner The King's Speech and several other Hollywood imports.
With the disruption of train service in many locations, it was not immediately clear how many movie theaters will be in operation this weekend in Tokyo -- which sustained a smaller quake after the initial 8.9-magnitude earthquake in northern Japan -- much less in the nation's nine key markets and in the territory overall.
Scheduled Japan openings for a pair of animation titles -- Disney's Tangled and DreamWorks Animation's Megamind in 3D from Paramount -- were in limbo. Both were anticipating lucrative payoffs in Japan's animation-crazed market, timed to March school holidays.
The two have rolled up substantial foreign grosses in lengthy overseas campaigns -- $350.5 million for Tangled over 15 rounds and more than $171 million for Megamind since Oct. 28, 2010.
The King's Speech, being distributed by Gaga Communications, opened in Japan on Feb. 26 and has grossed more than $5.5 million there so far. Last weekend, the best picture Oscar winner nabbed $1.6 million from 124 venues for a per-screen average of $12,915.
Taking a bigger hit will be Fox's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is concluding its successful foreign release (grossing more than $294 million internationally) with a triumphant Japan run.
Since Treader opened in the market Feb. 25, it has raked in about $15.5 million, with last weekend's take coming in at an impressive $4.1 million from 910 venues. The live-action family-oriented fantasy adventure also was positioned to take advantage of Japan's March school holidays.
Winding down a solid three-month foreign run (cume of about $190 million) is Sony's The Tourist, co-starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, which opened in turbocharged fashion in Japan on March 5. Its initial weekend generated a hefty $3.7 million from at 338 locations for a per-screen average of more than $11,000.
Japan was the largest foreign market last year for films distributed by the American majors -- Fox, Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, Sony and Universal -- and was second only to the U.S. and Canada as the world's largest box office territory for films of all origination.
Japan box office as a whole totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2010, an 11% increase from 2009 levels.