In Japan, a country relatively unhurt by the coronavirus, cinemas have been gradually reopening since May. One beneficiary is Studio Ghibli, the country’s animation juggernaut.
For two weekends running, the studio has completely dominated the box office with catalogue re-releases. Both this week and last, the ranking was topped by Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (1st), Princess Mononoke (2nd), and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (3rd). Tales from Earthsea, directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro, climbed from 9th to 8th. (Technically, Nausicaä isn’t a Ghibli production — Ghibli was founded shortly after the film’s release, and went on to hire many of the people who had worked on it at the studio Topcraft. The film has subsequently been folded into the Ghibli canon, and is often marketed as one of the studio’s works, including for this re-release.)
On June 26, the studio’s distributor Toho released the four features across 372 theaters under the slogan “Once in a lifetime, Ghibli in the cinema.” That’s ironic: we’re willing to wager most Japanese people have seen a Ghibli film in the cinema before. The studio’s films routinely top the box office — Spirited Away remains the top-grossing film of all time in Japan — and Hayao Miyazaki’s stature in the country is comparable to Walt Disney’s in the U.S. (Box office numbers were not immediately available, but will be updated later.)