Disney/Pixar films are known for their exquisite quality and for their box office success both in the U.S. domestic and foreign markets. Although overall box office has been considered a success for every Pixar film, each film has had varying levels of success in individual foreign markets with exception to one country. According to box office data, no other country outside the U.S. displays such enduring devotion to Disney/Pixar films more than Japan.
Pixar films in Japan have enjoyed huge success at the box office over the past decade. At the beginning of the decade, Monster’s Inc. and Finding Nemo hauled in $74.4 million and $102.4 million, respectively, placing both movies in the top three for their respective year. 2004 was the year of The Incredibles, which brought in $50 million from the land of the rising sun. In 2006, Cars raked in a modest $12 million but every successive year since then has seen a significant boost at the Japanese box office for each Pixar film. This year, Toy Story 3 has so far taken in $122 million in Japan and is still counting. This massive haul signifies the affection that Japanese moviegoers have for Pixar films, and their love is exclusively for Pixar.
Japan is known for their love of animation especially for Hayao Miyazaki’s beautifully hand-drawn masterpieces in the form of Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Their taste for animation may explain in part, their passion for Pixar films, but it does not explain the unpopularity of other animated films that were so hugely popular in other parts of the world, notably Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Being animation connoisseurs in their own right, it may be safe to say that the Japanese know quality animation when they see it. Therefore, the monetary measure of an animated film’s success in Japan may be commensurate with its quality. And indeed, Toy Story 3 was certainly quality.