by Chris MaGee
It was absolutely no surprise when I read the headline "Toho declares 2008 its biggest year" over at Tokyograph this morning. Each week when we've been posting the top ten weekend films at the Japanese box office Toho was there, consistently raking in the yen from Japan's moviegoers, but according to the Tokyograph article 2008 marked the single best year in the studio's 76 year history.
Mega-hits like "Hana yori Dango: Final" (¥6,448,643,032.28), "Yôgisha X no kenshin (Suspect X)" (¥4,691,848,076.49), Twentieth Century Boys" (¥3,266,204,676.35), "The Magic Hour" (¥3,252,767,872.10), and "Paco And The Magical Book" (¥2,062,443,735.99) appeared week after week as top ten money makers, but they were nothing compared to Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea" which took in ¥14,227,107,731 ($195,481,132.09 CAD) during its theatrical run. In the end Toho is estimating that by the end of the year it will have grossed ¥74 - ¥75 billion in revenue.
Now to be fair Toho did have some competition this year, namely in the form of Toei's blockbuster "Aibô: Gekijô-ban (Partners: The Movie)" based on the hit TV Asahi series which grossed ¥3,783,424,757.06. Warner Japan also translated Ken'ichi Matsuyama's star power into ¥2,669,394,968.06 in ticket sales for the "Death Note" spin-off "L: Change the World", while Shochiku had a surprise hit on their hands with the award-winning and critically-praised "Okuribito (Departures)" which grossed ¥2,611,592,707.73.
In the end though congratulations have to go out to Toho. I wonder what kind of Christmas bonuses they'll be seeing?!