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Miyazaki’s ‘The Boy and the Heron’ is #1 at the box office

NEW YORK – It’s the No. 1 spot at the North American box office for the first time in the decades-long career of 82-year-old Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki’s latest spell, “The Boy and the Heron,” debuted with $12.8 million, according to studio estimates.

From the director of “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and other acclaimed anime classics, the long-awaited animated fantasy “The Boy and the Heron” has become the third anime blockbuster in U.S. and Canadian theaters. and the first original anime to do so. The film, which was shown in both subtitled and dubbed versions, is also the first completely foreign film to top the domestic box office this year.

Although Miyazaki’s films have often been big hits in Japan and Asia, they have traditionally made less of a mark in North American cinemas. The director’s previous best performance was his last film, 2013’s “The Wind Rises,” which grossed $5.2 million in its entire domestic run.

“The Boy and the Heron”, which previously collected $56 million in Japan, was expected to be Miyazaki’s swan song for years. But when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Studio Ghibli vice president Junichi Nishioka said Miyazaki, who had previously retired, was still working on another film.

“The Boy and the Heron” was praised as one of the best films of the year. The film, which features an English dubbing voice cast including Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale, Dave Bautista and Mark Hamill, is about his mother, World War II. It tells the story of a boy who is led to a portal by a mysterious heron after he is killed in a bombing in World War II. A fantastic land. In Japan it’s titled “How Do You Live?” means.

Last week’s most-watched movie, “Renaissance: A Movie by Beyoncé,” dropped sharply in its second weekend. The concert film, the second pop star concert movie distributed by AMC Theaters after Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour,” grossed $5 million in its second weekend, down 76% from its $21 million opening.

That allowed Lionsgate’s still-strong “The Hunger Games: A Song of Songbirds and Snakes” to take second place with an estimated $9.4 million in its fourth weekend. The domestic gross of the “Hunger Games” prequel was $135.7 million.

“The Boy and the Heron” wasn’t the only Japanese movie that was among the most watched movies in theaters over the weekend. “Godzilla Minus One” made its spectacular debut last weekend with $8.3 million for Toho Studios. Takashi Yamazaki’s acclaimed kaiju movie dropped by just 27% in its second weekend of release, bringing its total gross to $25 million.

Several potential awards contenders are off to strong starts with the limited release. Yorgos Lanthimos’s twisted fantasy “Poor Things,” starring Emma Stone, opened with $644,000 in nine theaters in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin, Texas. “Poor Things” will open in more theaters next week.

Ava DuVernay’s “Origin” was nominated for an Oscar in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles, with a per-screen average of $58,532 for Neon. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor stars as Isabel Wilkerson, a writer who explores race and inequality for her book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.” “Origin” opens on January 19.

“Wonka,” one of the most anticipated productions of the holiday season, kicked off its international debut with $43.2 million from 37 international markets. The film, starring Timothée Chalamet and directed by “Padington” filmmaker Paul King, is expected to lead U.S. and Canadian ticket sales next weekend.

Estimated ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Sunday, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be announced on Monday.

1. “The Boy and the Heron,” $12.8 million.

2. “The Hunger Games: A Song of Songbirds and Snakes,” $9.4 million.

3. “Godzilla Minus One,” $8.3 million.

4. “Trolls Come Together,” $6.2 million.

5. “I wish,” $5.3 million.

6. “Renaissance, a Movie by Beyoncé,” $5 million.

7. “Napoleon,” $4.2 million.

8. “Waitress: The Musical” $3.2 million.

9. “Animal,” $2.3 million.

10. “Transition,” $2.2 million.

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