Cinemas raked in record 200 billion yen last year

Movie box offices in Japan rang up 200 billion yen last year for the first time ever, thanks mainly to the record-breaking performance of the animation “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (“Spirited Away”).

The Hayao Miyazaki film about a girl who finds herself working at a hot spring resort that caters to spirits and gods is set to gross 30 billion yen, the Tokyo-based Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan said Thursday.

Box office revenues in 2001 represented a gain of 17.1 percent from the previous record of 178 billion yen in 2000. Likewise, attendance rose to an estimated 163 million, up 20.6 percent, and the first time in 15 years the figure topped the 160 million mark.

“There was a good number of quality films and an increase in new cinemas, especially complexes,” said Isao Matsuoka, association head and chairman of the Toho film company.

The year was also good for Japanese movies, with their share of the total gross receipts accounting for 40 percent, compared with about 30 percent in 2000.

The top Japanese films included the animation series “Gekijoban Poketto Monsters Celebi o Koeta Deai” (“Pocket Monsters Celebi: A Timeless Encounter)” which grossed 3.9 billion yen, and “Battle Royale,” an action drama about school violence, which grossed 3.11 billion yen.

Steven Spielberg’s science fiction drama “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” was the top foreign film, grossing 9.7 billion yen, while the World War II yarn “Pearl Harbor” took in 6.88 billion yen and “Jurassic Park 3” took in 5.13 billion yen.