Tuesday, August 25, 2009

By The Numbers: Hayao Miyazaki

In this weeks installment of by the numbers we'll have a look at Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo. The international success recently received its US release, and has been quietly doing comparitively well here in the US. Among the most surprising aspects might be that Ponyo is that it has almost doubled the revenue of Miyazaki's 2005 Howl's Moving Castle (which made $4.7m in the US) it only 2 weeks of release.

Even Miyazaki's Oscar winning masterpiece Spirited Away only made $10.05m in the US. Ponyo after only two weeks currently sits at $8.13m made! Now the movie has already made $183m abroad so it's no big deal what it makes here in the US, but it may just have enough umph to create some buzz if he does decide to do another film. When it comes to Anime films Miyazaki is probably the only real modern auteur, and has been about as influential as they come when it comes to the modern fantasy.

Vivid imagination and designs are what have been at the core of every Miyazaki film, not to mention a nack for story telling, especially when it comes to coming of age stories. And yet here in the US we've held a firm back towards Miyazaki, and his long term partnership with Disney.

Ponyo received one of the few theaters. Even at its peak, during the oscar season, Miyazaki's Spirited Away was only ever at 714 theaters. This is in sharp contrast to fantasy films such as Shorts which was released this past week to 3,105 theaters. Shorts also managed ,with such a huge release push, to do less per theater than Ponyo did in its 2nd week, whose advertisements were mostly put on Disney, and Disney affiliates. Ponyo averaged $2617 over 927 theaters, the most in Miyazaki's history, while shorts only did $2065 over 3105, and it was a primary release!

Perhaps it is fear that beyond Miyazaki's core fanbase, there exists little interest in his work, but when his films, even one of his lesser ones like Ponyo, can produce so much I think it wouldn't kill Disney to put a little bit more effort into it. The sad thing is though Ponyo may be Miyazaki's last film. If that is the case then perhaps we will never truely know what potential his movies had in the american markets, but there's no argument... internationally he's the anime king.

Recent Miyazaki International Figures:
Ponyo: $183.95m
Howl's Moving Castle: $230.47m
Spirited Away: $264.87m
Princess Mononoke: $157m

The numbers don't lie, the guy is huge in Japan (almost 75% of the international gross is from there on average), and the rest of the world needs to recognize it. Then again, who knows, it may be that he's a one market kind of film maker.

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