‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Sets Box Office Record in Japan, Underlining Hollywood Recovery

After opening on April 28 in Japan, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has hit the JPY10 billion ($71 million) milestone in just 31 days – the quickest ever by a non-Japanese animation in the Japanese market.
In the latest three-day period from May 26 to 28, the film earned JPY632 million ($4.5 million), bringing its cumulative box office to JPY10.1 billion ($71.7 million), according to figures supplied by distributor Toho-Towa.

Based on an iconic Japanese game series, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” currently ranks third all-time at the worldwide box office for animated films, behind “Frozen” and Frozen II.”

Toho-Towa has not issued a final earnings forecast for the film. And the title still has a way to go to catch Japan’s all-time box office leader, the locally-produced “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train.” That earned JPY40.4 billion ($288 million) in 2020.

Virtually absent from Japanese screens at the height of the pandemic and slow to return as the disease waned, Hollywood films grabbed a nearly 30% market share last year and are on the upswing this year, as the success of “Mario” underlines. Among most-anticipated releases this summer is “The Little Mermaid,” Rob Marshall’s live-action version of the 1989 animated hit.

Set for release on June 9 in Japan by Disney, the film is also predicted to reach the JPY10 billion mark, according to veteran entertainment analyst Saito Hiroaki, writing on the Yahoo! Japan website. Previous live-action versions of classic Disney animations like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” did splendid business in Japan with the former earning JPY12.4 billion ($88 million) in 2017 and the latter JPY12.1 billion ($86 million) in 2019.

Also, notes Saito, the controversy in the U.S. and China over the casting of Halle Bailey in the live-action remake doesn’t carry over to Japan. “If you think about it calmly,” he writes, “Ariel is a mermaid who lives in the sea world. There is no need to faithfully reproduce the hair and skin color of the animated version.”

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