Japanese Box Office Posts Lowest Revenue in 20 Years in 2020 Despite Demon Slayer’s Record Breaking Run

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba THE MOVIE Mugen Train


Despite Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train releasing last year and being the highest-grossing film in Japanese film history, the overall Japanese box office takings for 2020 were the lowest in 20 years, recording only 143.285 billion yen (US$1.380 billion) in revenue, a 55% drop from the record high last year, and the lowest amount since 2000, reported The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan today. Admissions were down 54.5% from 2019, with only 161.3 million people going to the theaters in 2020.


1017 films were released in Japanese cinemas last year, a drop of 261 from 2019. Of those films, 506 were Japanese made, with 511 being foreign films (including Hollywood films). Only one film out of the over 1,000 grossed more than 10 billion yen in 2020; Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. The second-highest-grossing film of 2020 in Japan was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at 7.32 billion yen (US$70.55 million).


Violet Evergarden: the Movie


Here are the top 10 Japanese-made films of 2020 at the Japanese box office:

  • 1. Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train – 36.55 billion yen (US$352.2 million)
  • 2. From Today, It’s My Turn!!: The Movie – 5.37 billion yen (US$51.74 million)
  • 3. Confidence Man JP: Episode of the Princess – 3.84 billion yen (US$37 million)
  • 4. Doraemon: Nobita’s New Dinosaur – 3.35 billion yen (US$32.28 million)
  • 5. Stigmatized Properties – 2.34 billion yen (US$22.54 million)
  • 6. Ito – 2.27 billion yen (US$21.87 million)
  • 7. Violet Evergarden: The Movie – 2.13 billion yen (US$20.52 million)
  • 8. Kaiji Final Game – 2.06 billion yen (US$19.85 million)
  • 9. Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] III. spring song – 1.95 billion yen (US$18.79 million)
  • 10. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising – 1.79 billion yen (US$17.24 million)


And here are the top 4 foreign films released in Japan in 2020:

  • 1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – 7.32 billion yen (US$70.55 million)
  • 2. Parasite – 4.74 billion yen (US$45.67 million)
  • 3. Tenet – 2.73 billion yen (US$26.3 million)
  • 4. Cats – 1.35 billion yen (US$13 million)


My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising 


In the total top 5, only one Hollywood film made the list (Star Wars), and for the first time since at least 2000, a South Korean film made the top 5 (Parasite). It is also the first time that a Weekly Shonen Jump adaptation has been the number one film of the year (Demon Slayer: Mugen Train). 


Of course, the low numbers can’t be helped when cinemas were closed for nearly two months near the start of the year and domestic productions were slowed, while films overseas were delayed again and again, both due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Sources: NHK, Oricon


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Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram

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