'Frozen' heats up Japan box office in 2014

Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:58am EST
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese cinemas rang up a healthy rise in ticket sales in 2014 as blockbuster animation film "Frozen" eclipsed an otherwise lackluster show by Hollywood, industry data showed on Tuesday.

The box office rose 6.6 percent last year to 207 billion yen ($1.75 billion), the highest since the 2010 record of 220 billion yen, the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan said.

Walt Disney's "Frozen" - known in Japan as "Anna and the Snow Queen" - took in 25.5 billion yen ($216 million) alone, becoming the third-biggest movie of all time in Japan and accounting for more than 10 percent of the overall box office.

Still, imported films made up about 42 percent of last year's receipts, lagging local fare for a seventh straight year and staying well below a peak of 73 percent in 2002.

Once-dominant Hollywood has struggled in recent years as audiences shun many U.S. superhero and other franchises that carry lower name recognition in Japan.

Rounding out the top three foreign films last year were Disney's "Maleficent" ($55 million) starring Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock's "Gravity" ($27 million) distributed by Warner Bros.

Animated films looks set to continue their domination this year.

Disney's "Big Hero 6," which premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and Toho's "Yo-kai Watch" have so far touched about $60 million each in cumulative ticket sales, according to box office tracker Kogyo Tsushinsha.

Sony Pictures' musical "Annie" opened at a solid No. 2 over the weekend between holdovers "Big Hero 6" and "Yo-kai Watch."   Continued...

Chris Buck (L), Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho pose with their awards for best animated feature film for "Frozen" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni