Here’s some good news to see out another dismal year for cinemas. Anime films dominate the 2021 box-office ranking in Japan, a market famously friendly toward animation.
The three highest-grossing features in the country this year are all animated, according to data reported by film site Eiga.com. They are Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time, with 10.28 billion yen (USD$89.3M); Case Closed: Scarlet Bullet, with 7.65 billion yen; and Belle, with 6.53 billion yen.
These figures are correct as of December 12, but there is little chance of another film displacing them before the year is out. A lock on the top three is a remarkable result for animation — it’s only the second time this has happened since 2000.
Thrice Upon a Time is the long-awaited final installment in Hideaki Anno’s film series Rebuild of Evangelion, which is based on his seminal 1990s show Neon Genesis Evangelion. Scarlet Bullet is also based on a well-known franchise, the manga/anime series Case Closed (known in Japan as Detective Conan). Belle is the latest feature from Mamoru Hosoda, and is up for five Annie Awards.
No other animated title made the top ten. The list only contained one non-Japanese film: F9: The Fast Saga, which came in tenth with 36.6 billion yen. No release this year came close to jaw-dropping tally of last year’s anime sensation Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train, which has grossed 40.43 billion yen (USD$351.M) domestically — more than any other film in Japanese history.
Overall, though, the country’s box office stood at around 135% of 2020’s as of late November, according to Eiga.com. Theaters were far less affected by closures this year. But grosses were still only at 57% of 2019 levels.
Official figures will be released by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren) next month.