Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Climber's High" clings on to modest success

As of July 13th, "Boys Over Flowers" can be declared the victor in the war between the two most excessively promoted films of 2008 to date, accumulating 3.79 billion yen so far against Mitani Koki's "The Magic Hour" which has still managed to ring up a highly respectable 3.29 billion. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is still leading the summer pack with its 4.03 billion take, but "Boys Over Flowers" is well on its way to asserting its meticulously coiffured dominance.

Neither of these films were included in Toho's box office report for the first half of 2008, but they could still boast 11 films that exceeded 1 billion yen in takings (not counting BOF & TMH), with Doraemon anime "Nobita and the Green Giant Legend" the top performer at 3.37 billion. As for two of this year's worst films, "Shaolin Girl" limped into 7th place with 1.5 billion while "The Last Princess" deservedly failed to make the list. Variety Asia has the full story.

While "Boys Over Flowers" grabs all the headlines, "Climber's High" is proving to be a much-needed hit for director Harada Masato and should outdo his previous best, 1999's "Jubaku - Spellbound" (Kinyu Fushoku Retto: Jubaku). Despite a minor fall from third to fourth spot in its second week of release, it was seen by 134,072 and brought in 170,413,199 million yen in its first two days which means co-distributors Toei and Gaga can realistically hope for a final take of 1.5-2 billion. Although this may be small bikkies next to the reigning box office champs, as Cyzo point out its success is particularly notable due to its lack of TV company backing and consequent dearth of promotional muscle. After the lacklustre showings of Harada's "The Suicide Song" (Densen no Uta) and "The Shadow Spirit" (Moryo no Hako) last year, I'm glad to see him get back into the groove.


  1. I thought it was promoted quite heavily when I was in Japan, although not to the point of HYD or Magic Hour. I saw at least two appearances by the star on daytime TV, and the trailer was playing quite widely.

    Anyway, Toei is having quite a roller coaster year, after Aibou making 4 billion yen and God's Puzzle not even cracking 100 million yen. I hope this at least makes its money back. Didn't they shoot all the way in New Zealand?

  2. [...] Ryuganji looks at the relative success of the Japanese newsroom drama Climber’s High, which is aiming for a 1.5-2 billion yen, and is a much-needed hit for all [...]

  3. "Dearth" might have been too strong a word. You're right, it has been well-publicised despite the absence of TV tie-ups, but its promotional campaign still pales in comparison with HYD (BOF) and TMO.

    Harada shot the epilogue in New Zealand, which was a tweak of his own that differs from the original novel.

  4. Cyzo's "keepin' it real" opinion is interesting. A "clean hit"? Meaning films with TV consortium partners are "dirty"?

    The journalism element central to the film got it a lot of higher than usual quality publicity from writers who were around when the crash happened and outlets excited about a movie that examined journalism in Japan. And it's supposed to be a good movie by most accounts.

    Gaga had to spend more of its own money on TV spots in this scenario but less overall compared to titles like Hanadan or TMH.