A scene from Honnoji Hotel. Photo: Honnoji Hotel trailer
A scene from Honnoji Hotel. Photo: Honnoji Hotel trailer

Reuniting the team behind 2011 comedy, Princess Toyotomi, director Suzuki Masayuki checked in with Honnoji Hotel at Japan’s number one spot this week.

While staying at the titular hotel to ruminate on whether she should marry her boyfriend or not, a contemporary woman (Ayase Haruka), is transported back to 1582 via a magical elevator and encounters Sengoku-era lord, Oda Nobunaga (Tsutsumi Shinichi), famed for his failed attempt to unite Japan’s feudal states.

By the end of the weekend, this unlikely comical blend of romance and historical tragedy checked out with US$1.8 million.

Continuing its rebound from falling fortunes, anime powerhouse, Your Name returned to the number two spot in Japan. Shinkai Makoto’s film continued to enthrall the Japanese public – but not Japanese critics it seems.

In its recently released annual top 10 list for 2016, revered Japanese film journal, Kinema Junpo, astonished many by ignoring Your Name completely.

Ayase Haruka in a scene from Honnoji Hotel. Photo: Honnoji Hotel trailer
Ayase Haruka in a scene from Honnoji Hotel. Photo: Honnoji Hotel trailer

Kinema Junpo’s list heralded Shin Godzilla and other less financially prominent films like Iwai Shunji’s A Bride For Rip Van Winkle and Tetsuya Mariko’s Destruction Babies among others, but was most enamored with the anime that has been hanging around the bottom rungs of the Japanese box office since its November release, In This Corner Of The World. Also on the rebound, Katabuchi Sunao’s anime moved up to number eight last weekend from number 10.

Regardless, Your Name continues its phenomenal popularity. Partially boosted by an IMAX release last Friday, Your Name picked up an extra US$1.4 million last weekend and has reached a box office tally of US$203 million.

It’s not yet a serious threat to the all-time domestic record of US$266 million Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away recorded in 2001, but Your Name is shaping up to become the iceberg that sinks Titanic (US$229.5 million in 1997) to third place in Japan’s list of all-time grossers.

Also easing the sting of being overlooked by Kinema Junpo is Your Name’s continuing dominance of the South Korean box office. For the second week, Shinkai’s film took more than 30% of Korea’s total audience to pull in an additional US$5.2 million over the weekend and has now reached a tally of US$17.7 million.

In second place, taking US$4.9 million, Moana caught a wave of popularity to surge past Korea crime drama Master, which is seeing its status ebb even as it approaches a probable total haul of US$50 million.

Following Master, Marion Cotillard invaded South Korea – twice! Once with Brad Pitt in WWII thriller Allied (US$2.6 million) in fourth place and again with Michael Fassbender in fifth place in computer game adaptation Assassin’s Creed (US$2.2 million).

Actors in Storm Trooper costumes take part in the European Premiere of Star Wars Rogue One at the Tate Modern in London, Britain December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Rogue One rules the box office charts in China. Photo: Reuters/Neil Hall

In China, science fiction ruled the charts with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  (current gross US$377.5 million) in the number one spot, hovering above the Chris Pratt/Jennifer Lawrence romance with a science fiction setting, Passengers, which took a respectable US$143.7 million since lifting off on January 14.

Romantic comedy My Lover aka Some Like It Hot is still generating heat, picking up an additional US$16.7 million this past week for a very likable total of US$496.9 million. Also agreeable for local audiences are not one, but two Chinese animations about bears. Debuting at the 005 slot, comical superhero adventure, Bakkom Bear: Agent 008 has quickly bonded with mainland audiences to capture US$49 million.

Meanwhile, a franchise from a popular CCTV cartoon show rolls out the fourth movie in a (probably never-ending) series about tree-loving bears, Briar and Bramble. Boonie Bears: Entangled Worlds emerged at the number nine slot and has already picked up US$12 million well ahead of its official Lunar New Year release date. When compared to the US$25 million lassoed by American faux-Japanese animation Kubo And The Two Strings in seventh position, those ursine cartoons are acting more bullish, than bearish.