Japan Dominates The U.S. Box Office With The Boy And The Heron And Godzilla Minus One

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Two Japanese films in the weekend top five at the North American box office might be a first. Japan is the third-largest box office market in the world, second only to the U.S. and China, so Japanese films can typically thrive even without an overseas release. “Godzilla Minus One” has already grossed $26 million at the Japanese box office since its release in early November, while “The Boy and the Heron” has grossed $56.1 million since its summer debut at home.

You may be surprised to learn that “Godzilla Minus One,” despite being a city-destroying monster movie, had a smaller budget than “The Boy and the Heron” by a considerable margin. Toho’s latest addition to Godzilla canon was widely reported as costing $15 million, but director Takashi Yamazaki disputed that number at Tokyo Comic-Con, saying, “I wish it were that much!” 

Meanwhile, Suzuki has described “The Boy and the Heron” as the most expensive Japanese film ever made. An exact number hasn’t yet been specified, but it’s presumably north of $50 million since Studio Ghibli’s “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (the final film directed by Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, and a true masterpiece) was previously Japan’s most expensive production at a cost of $49.3 million. This is primarily down to the detailed, hand-drawn animation that has made Studio Ghibli beloved worldwide, but which takes a very long time to produce. “Princess Kaguya” was eight years in the making; “The Boy and the Heron” more than seven years.

Though both “Godzilla Minus One” and “The Boy and the Heron” have been helped by releasing in the typically quiet post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas window, their success is a sign of audiences craving quality. Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki are names with built-in prestige for animation fans. Meanwhile, “Godzilla Minus One” is thriving through word of mouth, with a stellar rating of 97% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore from audience exit polling. 


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