One would have to be familiar with Japanese box office hits to understand how overwhelming the success of Disney’s animated global hit “Frozen” has been – and continues to be – in Japan. Last week was the film’s 11th straight week on top of Japan’s box office, and most entertainment insiders predicted that it would surpass the hallowed 20-billion-yen milestone this week. Well, that has indeed happened today, May 28, and “Frozen” has become only the fourth film to achieve this record in Japan.
To put a global perspective on it, Frozen was not just a Japan hit – it has been raking in dollars for Disney all over the world, earning over USD$1.2 billion and taking the fifth spot above Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” on the list of the world’s most financially successful films. In Japan, the film was released as Anna to Yuki no Jou (“Anna and the Snow Queen”) and has sold over 15,740,000 tickets, making it the first film in 12 years to hit the 20-billion-yen mark (around USD$200 million). This is an interesting phenomenon, to say the least, because the Japanese public has been smitten enough by the movie for most of the viewers to see it more than once, most probably the local dub version and the original English language (subtitled) version.
At this moment, only three movies have done better in the Japanese box office than Frozen – atop that list is Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”, still Japan’s highest grossing movie ever, James Cameron’s “Titanic”, and the first installment of the Harry Potter franchise “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. Frozen is also the only animated film in Japan’s top 10 box office hits that were not produced by local animation outfit Studio Ghibli. By extension, and by virtue of Frozen being a musical, the movie’s soundtrack is also breaking all sorts of records in Japan, staying at number one in the Oricon Weekly Album Chart for three weeks straight now. The soundtrack has also sold over 500,000 CDs, a monumental record in Japan, as it has been 16 years since a movie soundtrack has recorded that feat, the last one being “Titanic.”