Romantic fantasy film has been the number-one movie in Japan for nine weeks running.
Just about a month ago, anime fans and film industry observers were excited by the prospect of director Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name breaking 10 billion yen (US$97.1 million) at the box office. Not only is 10 billion a nice, round number, it’s also a level that only one anime director has ever passed in earnings for a single film: Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.
But now Shinkai’s latest movie isn’t just equally the commercial success of some of Miyazaki’s greatest hits, but surpassing them. As of October 23, Your Name has earned 16.4 billion yen (US$159.2 million), more than Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Ponyo, which made 12.2 billion and 15.5 billion yen, respectively. Your Name is now the fifth highest-earning Japanese-made film (in domestic receipts) ever, and the ninth-highest earning film, regardless of country of origin, having most recently passed the 15.6 billion yen that James Cameron’s Avatar took in.
The next rung on the ladder for Your Name is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which raked in 17.3 billion yen during its Japanese theatrical run. Seeing as how Your Name just wrapped up its ninth consecutive week as the number-one movie in Japan, with its total number of tickets sold now at 12,608,655, there’s a solid chance that Shinkai’s body-swapping teen sweethearts will move past the boy wizard’s second adventure, which would put Your Name within striking range of Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (19.3 billion yen) and Howl’s Moving Castle (19.6 billion).
On the other hand, it would take a tremendously huge push for Your Name to catch Spirited Away, which in addition to being Miyazaki’s only Oscar-winning work is also the highest grossing film of all time in Japan, animated or otherwise, with a box office total of 30.4 billion yen. But whether or not Your Name reaches such a lofty mark, it’s already soared higher than anyone expected, and quite possibly changed the way anime films will be produced and marketed in Japan.