Up to release, Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s newest film The Boy & the Heron has had a lot of discussion centering around what it’s potentially meant to be. Is it actually Miyazaki’s for real, final film? Was it really the best idea to not really promote it or even give any idea as to what it’s about? The answer to that first one is a big “lol, no,” and the second appears to have potentially been “yes.”
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Per the Hollywood Reporter, Heron has earned $12.8 million in North America at time of writing, in turn becoming the first original anime film to lead a box office weekend for the region. (It’s not clear if audiences were more inclined to go with the sub version or its star-studded English dub.) Overall, its current global take is said to be at $97 million, with the majority of it owed to $56.1 million from Japan when it opened back in mid-July.
Beyond the acclaim from critics and audiences, what works in Heron’s favor is that nothing new really came out this weekend: if you weren’t seeing this, you were either going to something that’s already been out for a while—see Godzilla Minus One or the Hunger Games prequel—or wait until the Christmas season for Aquaman 2 and Wonka. But the film’s performance can also be owed to the rise of Japanese films getting North American screenings; not just anime flicks for shows like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer, but Godzilla Minus One arguably benefitted from this as well. It’s a nice bit of timing that both movies have broken the country’s box office records for Japanese films in their respective mediums.
Outside of Heron and Godzilla, the aforementioned Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes continues to hold its own almost a full month later. Sandwiched between the two movies in comfortable second place, it’s earned an additional $9 or $10 million, putting the movie at $279 million worldwide. The odds are definitely in the movie’s favor here: Hunger Games had the good sense to go away for nearly a full decade, and while originally held up by the strikes, the cast got the greenlight to start promoting their film a few weeks before the flick came out, which further helped.
Looking to the rest of December, there’s the previously stated Aquaman 2 and Wonka, the latter of which has been getting strong word of mouth. Aquaman has a lot of baggage attached to it at the moment, not unlike its predecessor—which ultimately ended up not mattering, since it became one of 2018’s biggest movies at the last second. Aside from those, Netflix is dropping Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon in theaters on December 15 for a brief spell a full week before it drops on the platform proper.
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