Note: US$ and ¥ rate are based on exchange rates at time of writing
Christopher Nolan returned to the top of the Japanese box office for the first time in seven years with Dunkirk this past weekend. Opening on 445 screens – including IMAX and 4DX premium screens – the war thriller earned ¥324 million (US$2.95 million) from 220,000 admissions on Saturday and Sunday.
Despite being beloved by film buffs, blockbuster status has been somewhat elusive for Nolan in Japan. Batman Begins is the only film of the Dark Knight trilogy to open at number one, and his highest grossing film in Japan is still Inception, which made ¥3.5 billion ($31.8 million) in the summer of 2010. Dunkirk is only his third film to open number one in the country.
As part of its marketing push, Nolan flew to Japan for a press event and the film’s local premiere, where he met with a member of pop group Exile and Eternal Zero director Takashi Yamazaki, respectively.
In 2014, Interstellar opened with ¥180 million (US$1.64 million) for a total of ¥1.25 billion (US$11.4 million).
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Third Murder (三度目の殺人) opened in second place. From 314 screens, the legal drama earned ¥233 million (US$2.12 million) from 180,000 admissions over its first two days on release. The Venice Film Festival competition title is reportedly playing well with audiences in the 40-60 age range, and it’s expected to perform strongly on weekdays. However, the film is not expected to surpass the ¥3.2 billion (US$29.1 million) gross of Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる).
The Third Murder stars Masaharu Fukuyama as a defense attorney who seems to have an open-and-shut murder case on his hands. However, his investigation reveals that his client – played by Koji Yakusho – may not be telling the whole truth.
Last May, After the Storm (海よりもまだ深く) opened with ¥109 million (US$992,000) on 244 screens for a total of ¥668 million (US$6.08 million).
The box office champion for the last two weekends, historical drama Sekigahara (関ヶ原) dropped to third place in its third weekend, earning an additional ¥156 million (US$1.42 million) over Saturday and Sunday. The Masato Harada film has made ¥1.56 billion (US$14.2 million).
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Before We Vanish (散歩する侵略者) fizzled on arrival. From 181 screens, the sci-fi thriller earned ¥43.1 million (US$392,000) over it first two days on release.
Starring Ryuhei Matsuda, Masami Nagasawa and Hiroki Hasegawa, the Cannes Un Certain Regard title follows three aliens on a reconnaissance mission who take over the lives of their hosts. Kurosawa also directed a five-part television drama spin-off of the story with a different cast.
Last June, Kurosawa’s Creepy (クリーピー 偽りの隣人) opened with ¥127 million (US$1.15 million) for a total of ¥659 million (US$5.99 million).
A Boy Who Wished to be Okuda Tamio And A Girl Who Drove All Men Crazy (奥田民生になりたいボーイと出会う男すべて狂わせるガール) and Alien: Covenant open this weekend.