After one Japanese title delivered at the sleepy December box office last weekend, that being Godzilla Minus One, here’s another that’s set to dominate: Studio Ghibli and GKIDS’ Hayao Miyazaki‘s The Boy and the Heron which is looking at a No. 1 lead with $10M+ after $2.39M Thursday and early access previews.
The comp here is quite literally last weekend’s Japanese live-action title Godzilla Minus One which saw previews of $2.1M before minting a $4.7M Friday, and 3-day of $11.4M at 2,308 theaters.
The Boy and the Heron played at 1,774 theaters yesterday in U.S. and Canada with showtimes starting at 5PM. The pic is booked at 2,205 theaters this weekend, including IMAX and PLF. It’s the first ever Studio Ghibli film to be presented in Imax. There were awards-qualifying preview engagements that began on Thanksgiving in New York and Los Angeles and those figures are going to be rolled into daily grosses on a prorated basis over the next two weeks per GKIDs.
Though Miyazaki retired in 2013, he came out to make this movie which is billed as “A semi-autobiographical fantasy about life, death, and creation.”
Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises, via Disney made $5.2M stateside. The current highest opening weekend for a Studio Ghibli film is 2012’s The Secret World of Arrietty which opened to $6.4M via Disney and finaled at $19.2M stateside. The Boy and the Heron will easily surpass that pic’s opening footprint of 1,522 theaters to become the widest ever opening for a Studio Ghibli film as well as the widest opening for a GKIDS release. The Boy and the Heron is screening in subtitled and English dubbed prints. The English dubbed version features the voices of Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, Gemma Chan, Willem Dafoe, Karen Fukuhara, Mark Hamill, Robert Pattinson, and Florence Pugh.
The Boy and the Heron is 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed over $84M abroad, $56.1M one of that in its native Japan where it became Miyazaki’s highest opening ever there sans any promotion back in July.
The pic premiered internationally as the Opening Night Gala Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival, a first for a Japanese or animated film. It recently won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Animated Feature and was honored among the National Board of Review’s Top 10 Films of 2023.
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