A Japanese anime blockbuster has beaten the Oscar-winning classic “Spirited Away” to become the country’s highest-grossing movie ever — a significant feat as the global entertainment industry reels from the effects of the pandemic.
Directed by Haruo Sotozaki, “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train” has generated ticket sales of 32.47 billion yen ($313.9 million) since its release in October, according to the film’s official Twitter account.
Dubbed and subtitled versions are due for release in the United States and Canada early next year.
The film became the first movie to gross 10 billion yen ($96 million) in Japan within 10 days of opening, and the country’s second-highest grossing movie ever in just 45 days, according to media reports. It surpassed American blockbuster “Titanic” in late November, before clinching the top spot from Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 movie “Spirited Away” on Monday.
Set during Japan’s Taisho era from 1912 to 1926, “Demon Slayer” follows teenager Tanjiro Kamado and his friends as they fight human-eating monsters that murdered his family. It was adapted from a popular 2016 comic book series by Japanese artist Koyoharu Gotoge.
The series became a pop culture phenomenon in 2019 after it was adapted into a 26-part anime series for television and made available on Netflix and other streaming services such as Tokyo MX.
Japan’s movie industry suffered a hit earlier this year when cinemas across the country were shuttered for several weeks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Cinemas eventually reopened from mid-May under strict new social distancing measures, with face masks mandatory and customers spread one seat apart.
That means cinemas have been operating at far less capacity than normal — making the triumph of “Demon Slayer” even more notable, with many fans queuing for hours for the opportunity to watch it.
Globally, the pandemic has thrown up an unprecedented challenge to the entertainment industry, with many releases delayed, countless workers left jobless and filmmakers envisioning what social distancing means for movie sets.