‘The Boy and the Heron’ Makes Anime History With $10.6 Million Opening

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Hayao Miyazaki’s film is the first original anime title to open wide to No. 1 at the U.S. box office

An animated still showing a boy with dark wild hair in "The Boy and The Heron," with a grassy background, a blue sky with a few clouds, and a house behind him
"The Boy and The Heron" (Studio Ghibli)

A lack of new Hollywood releases has left movie theater business in a sluggish state this weekend, but a pair of Japanese specialty films are standing out: GKids/Studio Ghibli’s “The Boy and the Heron” and Toho’s “Godzilla Minus One” are driving solid turnout.

“The Boy and the Heron,” possibly the final animated film from Hayao Miyazaki, expanded wide to 2,205 theaters after two weeks in select theaters. The film is earning an estimated $10.6 million this weekend.

While anime has carved out a place for itself at the box office thanks to Crunchyroll’s franchise films like “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” “The Boy and the Heron” stands out as the first original anime film to open wide to No. 1 at the U.S. box office.

With that result, “The Boy and the Heron” is on pace to become Miyazaki’s highest grossing film in the U.S., passing his previous U.S. directorial record of $15 million for “Ponyo” in 2007 and $19.1 million for “The Secret World of Arriety,” a film he wrote but did not direct, in 2012. Its $5.5 million opening day total is also the highest ever for GKIDS, passing the $1.8 million for Makoto Shinkai’s “Weathering With You” in 2020.

While reviews have noted that “Boy and the Heron” is not as accessible as much of Miyazaki’s past work, the director’s fans were still generally pleased by the film, giving it an A- on CinemaScore to go with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 95% critics’ approval and 87% audience.

Meanwhile, “Godzilla Minus One” is holding very well with $8 million in its second weekend, giving it a running domestic box office total of $25 million. That’s enough to put the kaiju movie among the top 10 highest-grossing non-English language movies in American box office history.

Riding enthusiastic audience acclaim from “Godzilla” fans, “Minus One” is starting to find traction with casual moviegoers who might not have seen any of the Japanese “Godzilla” films in theaters. It’s been so successful that U.S. distributor Emick Media added 200 theaters to the film’s count this weekend, bringing the total to 2,540 theaters.

On the American side, Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is making $9 million in its fourth weekend for a $135 million domestic total. Universal/DreamWorks’ “Trolls Band Together” is fourth with $6.2 million, passing $80 million in domestic grosses, leaving Disney family film competitor “Wish” far behind with just $49.5 million after three weekends.

Completing the top five is the Beyoncé concert film “Renaissance,” which — like most concert films — is proving to be highly frontloaded with an estimated $5.5 million, putting it in a narrow race with “Wish” for No. 5 as it falls 74% from its $21 million opening.

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