The domestic box office had a rather forgettable year in 2017, with both overall box office and attendance seeing notable declines. Despite a slew of blockbusters, the box office fell 2.3% year over year and attendance fell 6% to a 24-year low. A disappointing summer, rising ticket prices and other forms of entertainment competing for your valuable attention dollars all likely share some portion of the blame, but North America isn't the only place with the box office blues. Japan also experienced a slump last year, with the box office sliding 3% in 2017 to $2.1 billion.
The $2.1 billion Japanese box office in 2017 comes from 175 million admissions, according to figures released by the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan, as reported by Variety. While a 3% drop year over the year is no small slide, 2017 was still the second biggest box office year on record in the country, which had its all-time best year in 2016 thanks to the animated hit Your Name. While 2017 couldn't quite match that feat, there were still some notable successes at the Japanese box office last year. The biggest local release in the island nation was the animated feature Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter, which earned $63 million. On the live-action side of things, the most successful local film was the anime adaptation, Gintama that earned $35 million. Disney's Beauty and the Beast also dominated over there much like it did here, becoming the highest grossing film, local or foreign, in Japan in 2017 with $114 million.
Disney actually had a strong showing overall in the Land of the Rising Sun, with four of the studio's films making their way into the foreign top ten. While not all Disney films hit in all places, the studio is still the undisputed king at home and abroad. There was also an interesting shift in the box office makeup for the year. Usually the total number of local releases outweighs the number of foreign films released in the country, but the number of local and foreign releases in Japan was virtually identical in 2017. Traditionally, local (Japanese) films make up the lion's share of the Japanese box office, but Hollywood films put a serious dent in that last year. Of the $2.1 billion box office, $945 million came from Hollywood films, which is good for a 45% market share, up from 37% the year before.
It sounds like the Japanese box office is in a somewhat similar situation to the North American industry. Despite recent slumps, both countries have seen recent box office years at or near the all-time records. Of course, while local films still dominate, foreign films still play a much bigger role in the Japanese box office than non-Hollywood films do here. Despite the lackluster year in 2017, there is every reason to think that the box office will rebound domestically and perhaps in Japan in 2018. This year is full of exciting blockbusters that, if they don't disappoint, could give us a lot of great reasons to go to the movies. To see what's hitting North American theaters this year, check out our release schedule.
Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.
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