Demon Slayer becomes Japan's top-grossing movie

A man wearing a protective mask amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak walks past a poster for an animated movie Demon slayer in front of a movie theatre in Tokyo, Japan, on December 13, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Demon Slayer, the animated tale of a boy fighting human-eating demons that murdered his family, has shattered a nearly two-decade record to become Japan’s top-grossing movie, its distributor said on Monday.

The film, based on a popular manga and television anime series, powered past Spirited Away, the mega-hit Academy Award-winning movie by Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki that opened in 2001, in just a little over two months.

Demon Slayer, with a full official title of Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie - Mugen Train, had taken in 32.47 billion yen (S$416 million) compared with 31.68 billion yen for Spirited Away, according to data released on Monday.

The film got an unexpected boost from the novel coronavirus, film industry watchers said.

People stuck at home because of social distancing got hooked on the manga comic and television series then rushed to watch the film when cinemas reopened.

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The film, with its message of resilience, has also spawned a bonanza of merchandise - from toys to canned coffee - generating at least 270 billion yen in business as of Dec 3, said Toshihiro Nagahama, senior economist at the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute.

Sony Corp, whose music unit is co-distributor, also got a boost from the film, which has opened in several Asian countries and will head to the United States and Canada early in the New Year.