Japan's Toho Prepares Sequels and Serials for 2011

Japan's box office is on track to surpass $2.5 billion this year.

TOKYO – Distributor Toho’s line-up for 2011 includes a new work from animation hit-factory Studio Ghibli and a raft of sequels and serial releases.

Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro will take charge of Kokurikozaka Kara (literally – From Kokuriko Hill), his second feature following 2006’s Tales from Earthsea, which grossed over $60 million on its way to being the biggest domestic film of the year.

Miyazaki senior is credited for writing and planning for Kokurikozaka Kara, which is due to be released in summer 2011. The movie is based on a 1980 manga series set in the 1960s about a high school girl who has to grow up fast after her father goes missing.

This year’s Ghibli production, also written by Miyazaki senior and Niwa Keiko, but directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, The Borrower Arrietty, pulled in over $110 million at the summer box office.

Also in the Toho pipeline are sequels to two TV net-backed hits Amulfi (Fuji TV), which grossed over $37.5 million last year, and Kaiji (NTV), which took almost $25 million.

On top of these are the usual string of releases from animation serials such as Pocket Monsters, Doraemon and Crayon Shinchan.

Despite a poor November – down almost a third on the same month in 2009 - Toho looks on course for another record year. Total box office for its films for the first 11 months is up 11.5% to 68.7 billion yen ($820 million). Meanwhile box office at its own chain of theaters is up 14.6% to 37.9 billion yen ($595 million), from 37.9 million admissions - up 7.8%.

The Japanese box office also looks set to have its best ever year in 2010, as it’s currently on target to beat its record 211 billion yen ($2.5 billion at current exchange rates) tally of 2004.