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 28 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.”