Hollywood's Share of Japanese Box Office Jumps Nearly 20 Percent in 2017

Courtesy of Disney
'Beauty and the Beast'

Led by 'Beauty and the Beast,' imported films took in $935 million last year, which registered the second-biggest box-office numbers of all time.

Hollywood's share of the Japanese box jumped 18.6 percent in 2017, but was still outperformed by local fare, taking 45 percent, or $935 million, of the $2.08 billion (¥228.6 billion) market. The figures were announced by the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan (Eiren) at a Tokyo press conference Thursday.

The total annual box office was down 3.2 percent on the previous year's record numbers, but still registered the second-biggest figures of all time. Admissions dropped by a similar percentage to just below 175 million.

Led by Beauty and the Beast with $110 million, Hollywood films made up eight of the top 10 box-office earners for 2017. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Despicable Me 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales all took in more than $50 million. From the Japanese side, only the latest Detective Conan anime reached that mark.

The 1,187 films released in 2017, up from 1,149 in 2016, were split almost exactly evenly between domestic and import productions.

Export revenue for the major Japanese film companies jumped 36 percent, marking five years of continuous growth, reaching a record $221 million. Revenue was boosted by overseas sales of 2016 anime mega hit Your Name, remake and licensing deals with Hollywood and China, along with fees from Netflix. The giant streaming platform received overwhelmingly positive press at the event, cited by some of the studio CEOs as a future driver of growth.

"Until now, revenues from overseas markets only accounted for a few percent of our total, never reaching the 5 percent level, but last year it got to ¥5.1 billion ($46.8 million)," said Yoshishige Shimatani, head of Toho, who emphasized its strategy to invest more in projects with Hollywood and Chinese studios, rather than simply licensing IP such as Godzilla, as it had done in the past.

The number of screens in Japan increased slightly to 3,525, continuing five years of growth despite a slowly shrinking population.