“LEGO Movie” Tops Box Office Again; “Wind Rises” Doesn’t Excite Americans

The LEGO Movie crushed its live-action competition at the box office and remained in 1st place for the third weekend in a row with $31.5 million (estimated). The two new wide releases that took second and third place—3 Days to Kill and Pompeii—mustered a mere $22M between the two of them.

Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises opened in 21 U.S. theaters with $306,000. Its per-theater average of $14,571 was weaker than Spirited Away’s opening, which earned an average of $17,301 from 26 theaters, and slightly better than Howl’s Moving Castle which had a per-theater average of $11,888 from 36 theaters. The film’s soft opening in super-limited release doesn’t bode well for its expansion to over 400 theaters next weekend.

Disney’s Frozen maintained its eighth-place position, despite a 30% drop in gross. The film’s weekend take of $4.4M (est) boosted its overall domestic total to an astonishing $384.1M. The film is now all but assured of reaching the $400M domestic mark, a height attaind only by two other animated films upon their original release—Shrek 2 and Toy Story 3.

International figures will be added soon…


  • CanFo Cantor Fonnegra

    and I still wait for the release of the wind rises here in Colombia :(

  • IJK

    I don’t think a foreign film opening with a significantly limited release compared to a huge blockbuster with massive advertising heavily pushed more than most animated films in anticipation that their merchandise sales will go through the roof means that Americans are not excited by it.

  • George Comerci

    THE WIND RISES EXCITES ME
    BUT ITS NOT PLAYING IN MY CITY
    AAAAARGH

  • Jimbo2K7

    Let’s release a film and not tell anybody…
    Seriously, 21 theaters nationwide?
    There are megaplexes in my neighborhood with more screens than that.
    Disney does not seem to be making any kind of real effort here.

    • Hankenshift

      Theaters choose what plays, not distributers (Walt Disney himself fought for this to be all the way to the Supreme Court—and won). And theaters have not made money with his previous cartoons.

      • Jimbo2K7

        Thanks for entirely missing my point.

        • Mawnck

          Your point is irrelevant. Which IS the point. They aren’t going to heavily advertise a foreign animated movie, with zero kid appeal, that only 400 theaters are interested in. The industry term for that is “wasting money.” If it wins the Oscar, then maybe we can talk (but it won’t).

          For 25 years I’ve been hearing that “anime would do better if they just gave it a chance.” But they *have* given it a chance. Repeatedly. And it doesn’t. Anime in America is a niche market, and throwing all the money in the world at it will not change that. Reality sucks sometimes.

          If you live near a decent-sized city, it will open this Friday, and then you can have fun talking all your friends, family and coworkers into going to see it instead of “Non-Stop”. Good luck!

    • Some Thoughts…

      It’s a little frustrating. Just like Daniel Thomas, even though I’m a huge Ghibli fan, I have no idea if The Wind Rises is going to play in my city this weekend. After looking on Wikipedia, I found that this is even a smaller release than Ponyo or The Secret World of Arrietty.

      This is just a theory of mine, but it appears that Disney’s strategy is to release the Ghibli films as quickly and as quietly as possible, not make a fuss, and make a fortune off of the DVD/Blu-Ray sales. There’s certainly a demand for Studio Ghibli films in North America, but it’s a niche market, as the fans are a little too scattered across the continent to make much money at the box office. Home video is another story altogether, it’s much easier to make money on those films that way.

      • Mike

        I commented this on the other Wind Rises article, but I was able to check on Fandango and find theaters near me that would be playing it starting the 28th. You might have luck doing the same. Here’s hoping there’s a theater near you!

        • Some Thoughts…

          No scheduling information for ANY movie in my city for the 28th, unfortunately. In the end, it isn’t really that big of a deal. I’d really like to see it on the big screen, but I know I’ll be able to see it on Blu-Ray.

  • luca

    The Wind Rises played in New York for weeks many months ago, I think it was in November last year. I saw it back then, almost everyone I know in the city also saw it back then and probably most people in the city who are animation fans did just the same. I know it came out in Los Angeles at the same time too, and maybe San Francisco? Now I`m not saying that the only market for that film is in those 3 cities but it`s definitely a decent slice. That early release might be partially responsible for the poor performance now. I hope it is..

  • Steven Bowser

    I couldn’t care less about other people, just put The Wind Rises in a theater near me and I’ll be in there in a heartbeat. I just wish I could see it in Japanese with subs, but I’m sure the English dub is fine. Disney is pretty good with those.

    • Funkybat

      I’m hoping Disney takes the trouble to run it in Japanese with English subtitles in a limited number of screens, but I’m not getting my hopes up. GKids did that with “From Up On Poppy Hill” last year, and I was grateful. I went to an “art theater” that had it in English in one screen, and Japanese on another. Why this is just not doable by Disney (at least up until this point) baffles me. I think Spirited Away was the last one they distributed where it was available both ways and that was over 10 years ago. That also seemed to get a wider release than any subsequent ones, except maybe Ponyo.

      I’m not sure if the folks in Disney distribution are aware of this, but a lot of Anime fans prefer to hear it in Japanese with English subs, and there are also a lot of Japanese speakers who might just like to hear it in their own language, at least there are here in the Bay Area. I’m hoping there will be at least a few such screens when the big rollout happens next weekend.

  • daniel thomas

    A foreign film, in an unconventional visual style, with no marketing, with no merchandising tie-in (which is, let’s be honest, the only REAL reason animated pictures get made today), and playing in a handful of cities….Should we be surprised? Next week, The Wind Rises will do better, but won’t be any more successful than all the other Ghibli films in the US.

    At this point, we cannot expect a Miyazaki movie to reach blockbuster status in the US. It ain’t gonna happen. But so what? Vanilla Ice sold more albums than The Ramones. The best things in life are off the beaten track, hidden in the woods. That’s why they’re called “surprises” amd “hidden gems.”

    Also, Disney should spend more than $5 on marketing. I run a Ghibli website, and even I cannot tell you where The Wind Rises is playing. Is it showing in Minneapolis? How the heck should I know? Nobody tells me anything!

    Ah, well. Lego Movie rocks, btw.

  • e____

    I just got back from a showing in Cambridge (Boston). It’s a beautiful movie. I forget how peaceful a film can be considering how “loud” for lack of a better word domestic movies are. The theater I saw it in was pretty packed. However, it was definitely skewed toward folks who knew who miyazaki was: visibly electric young adults or older folks (professors and family by the looks of it). And quite honestly and unfortunately, I do not see the film garnering any more attention next week. =[

  • James VanDam

    I didn’t even know “The Wind Rises” was in theaters. Also the limited release and lack of adds is what really killed it viewership.

    • http://pickledperfection.blogspot.com/ Andrea K Haid

      It’s just arrived in US theaters actually.

  • AnthonyA

    I’ve not seen any conventional media advertising this, and barely any on-line ads, so I’m not too surprised it’s not gotten a better draw. If they’d sprung for a Super Bowl ad, it’s possible that the theaters would be full on opening week.

    Of course, I don’t know if it could pay back the $$$ involved in buying advertising around the Super Bowl. Maybe one ad with mini-teaser-trailers for three or four films would work as a format?

  • HalSolo

    Unless the Academy gives Miyazaki the Oscar this Sunday (instead of to the juggernaut that is FROZEN) Disney will have no interest in promoting this film any more than it has (which is, marginally at best). So talk it up, create awareness and for God’s sake, GO SEE IT and bring anyone you can with you when you do. Today alone I told 5 co-workers who’ve been dying to see it that it has been released in LA. This is one of the rare animated features made for adults that merits real discussion after, both about the film’s technique, narrative (flaws and all), it’s perspective on pre-war Japanese culture and its’ subtle reflection upon the filmmaker’s own career. Nobody makes films like Miyazaki and seeing this theatrically was magnificent.

  • http://pickledperfection.blogspot.com/ Andrea K Haid

    I saw The Wind Rises on Friday and it’s an amazing movie!! Still have to see The Lego Movie which I’m primarily excited about since Batman is in it.

  • rubi-kun

    Wind Rises is doing better than Howl’s at least. A bit weaker box office than Spirited Away, but Spirited Away had that rare combination of universal acclaim and child-friendliness; Wind Rises is widely but not universally acclaimed and isn’t really a family movie.

  • timmyelliot

    But still, Box Office Mojo puts this film at number 12 for biggest opening for an anime ever http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?view=openings&id=anime.htm&p=.htm )

  • Tril

    Miyazaki’s movies are blockbusters in Japan but hardly make a splash overseas.