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Media & Entertainment

'Demon Slayer' becomes Japan's highest-grossing film

Movie based on manga series tops 'Spirited Away'

The film, a tale of an adolescent boy fighting human-eating demons, has amassed $313 million since opening on Oct. 16.   © Koyoharu Gotoge/Shueisha, Aniplex, ufotable

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- An animated movie based on the blockbuster "Demon Slayer" manga series has become the highest-grossing film in Japanese box-office history, its distributors said Monday, ending the reign of Hayao Miyazaki's "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away) from 2001.

The film, a tale of an adolescent boy fighting human-eating demons, amassed as of Sunday 32.47 billion yen ($313 million) and drew more than 24 million to theaters since its opening on Oct. 16, according to co-distributors Aniplex Inc. and Toho Co.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic limiting cinema audiences, the movie had raked in 32.12 billion yen as of Saturday, surpassing Oscar-winning director Miyazaki's film, which chalked up 31.68 billion yen in box-office sales.

Miyazaki's movie took 253 days to eclipse the 30 billion yen mark in box-office sales, but "Demon Slayer -- Kimetsu no Yaiba -- The Movie: Mugen Train" did so just in 59 days.

The movie directed by Haruo Sotozaki and the sequel to an anime television series aired in Japan last year, became the first film in the country to earn over 10 billion yen within 10 days of its premiere.

It overtook "Titanic," the smash-hit 1997 American film about a romance aboard the ill-fated cruise liner of the same name, as the second-highest grossing movie ever in Japan on Nov. 30.

In mid-December, as the "Demon Slayer" movie was on track to beat the record of "Spirited Away," Toho revised the sales of Miyazaki's film from 30.8 billion yen to 31.68 billion yen by film revenues when screened again in summer.

"Demon Slayer," which is set in Japan around 100 years ago, is the tale of a boy forced to fight demons after his family is slaughtered and his younger sister Nezuko is turned into one. It is based on the manga series by Koyoharu Gotoge that was published between 2016 and earlier this year.

The manga series, now a global hit, has been translated into 14 languages and is available in 33 countries and regions, according to publisher Shueisha Inc.

The movie centers on the efforts of hero Tanjiro Kamado, along with his sister and fellow demon slayers, to save the lives of passengers aboard the "Mugen Train," named after the Japanese word for infinity, on which countless people have gone missing.

Its English-dubbed and subtitled versions will hit movie theaters in North America in early 2021, according to Aniplex. The film was shown in Taiwan on Oct. 30 and earlier this month in Thailand.

The "Demon Slayer" boom has generated an economic impact of around 270 billion yen, based on an estimate by Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute, earlier this month.

In another boost to the "Demon Slayer" boom, the final volume of its manga series in book form went on sale earlier this month. Shueisha said 3.95 million copies were published as the first edition of the 23rd volume, with the cumulative number for all volumes including digital sales topping 120 million copies.

A novel version of the story was this year's best-seller in a ranking compiled by information provider Oricon Inc., while the series' opening theme song, sung by LiSA, remains a top seller.

Companies have also cashed in on the popularity of "Demon Slayer" through toys and other merchandise, while the series title was also picked as one of Japan's buzzwords for this year.

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