Yesterday, Anime News Network reported that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises topped 10 billion yen ($100.7 USD) in box office receipts. The film is the first Japanese film to exceed 10 billion yen in revenues since Ghibli’s Ponyo in 2008. The film saw its ticket sales soar since last week, when Miyazaki announced that he will retire from producing feature films.
Before we go any further, does this revelation surprise anybody? Good. The spike in revenues honestly shouldn’t be seen as shocking, as it’s Miyazaki’s last feature film. Because of this, turnout to the film will always be higher, since people want to take part in the “end of the era,” if you may.
Instead, what will be particularly intriguing is whether or not these gains are maintained in the following week. Typically, bumps such as these are short-lived, reactionary drives that capitalize on a single moment of time. As time grows further from the event’s point of origin, we see revenues drop at a fairly quick rate. While sales are often helped by a strong product and positive word of mouth, the downward trend tends to be fairly consistent.
In more rare instances, we have seen these spikes lead to a precipitous drop in returns, due to a rush of people that would otherwise be distributed across the weeks in a film’s lifespan, leading to a shorter lifetime and far smaller overall returns. However, this is more of an outlier case, and will be treated as such.
I do have sincere doubts that The Wind Rises will become Miyazaki’s highest-grossing film. It’s already enjoyed a large amount of financial success, due to the publicities generated by various controversies leading up to début, strong word of mouth, and the recent retirement announcement. However, Miyazaki’s highest-grossing films, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, grossed ¥22.4 billion and ¥23.2 billion respectively.
In plain English, the numbers for The Wind Rises are as follows (provided by Box Office Mojo):
- Week Ending July 28: $29,055,731
- Week Ending August 4: $15,202,338
- Week Ending August 11: $12,687,619
- Week Ending August 18: $17,214,520
- Week Ending August 25: $8,243,653
- Week Ending September 1: $7,681,413
- Week Ending September 8: $9,334,973
Now, assuming that ticket sales do remain constant, The Wind Rises would need to be in theaters for about thirteen weeks with zero declines in order to break the record set by Howl’s Moving Castle. Realistically, this won’t happen, due to the natural inertia of the theatrical films market. However, I do anticipate the film making large gains to surpass Princess Mononoke (which grossed ¥14.5 billion theatrically), and a fairly large number of Miyazaki’s older works.
With the new variable of Miyazaki’s retirement in play, the overall performance of the film becomes an interesting subject. It creates a change from the norm, which can cause some erratic behavior by the marketplace. How the final box office performance will fare is still up in the air, though the progression toward that point will be something worth watching.