Saturday, 7 March 2015

Stand By Me Doraemon Continues Its Winning Streak!

Stand By Me Doraemon, the 36th feature film in the iconic robot cat franchise, is simply unstoppable.

Upon its release in Japan in August last year, it topped the box office charts for 5 consecutive weeks and went on to become the highest grossing local film at the Japanese box office in 2014. Since then, it has enjoyed strong overseas performance in markets including Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia and South Korea.

Its performance in Hong Kong has been particularly impressive. After setting a record for the biggest ever opening day for a Japanese film and dominating the box office during the Chinese New Year period, it has gone on to become the highest grossing Japanese film in Hong Kong's cinema history, beating the previously held record set by The Ring 16 years ago. Part of its success has been attributed to the recent passing of Lam Pou Chuen, the actor who had provided the distinctive voice for the character of Doraemon (or ‘Ding Dong’ as it was known in Hong Kong in the 80s and early 90s) in the Cantonese-dubbed anime shown on free TV and films including his last film, Stand By Me) over the past 3 decades.

Of course, Hong Kong people's love of anime is another major factor. The following is a list of the top 10 grossing Japanese films in Hong Kong, most of which are either anime or live action films inspired by manga:

      1)      Stand By Me Doraemon

      2)      The Ring
      3)      Spirited Away
      4)      Ponyo on a Cliff
      5)      Howl’s Moving Castle
      6)      The Wind Rises
      7)      Death Note: The Last Name
      8)      Death Note
      9)      Quill
      10)    The Secret World of Arrietty

The good news doesn’t stop here. Stand By Me Doraemon was also awarded the Best Animated Feature at the Japanese Academy Awards last week. Since this award category was established in 2007, it has been dominated by Studio Ghibli productions and Mamoru Hosoda films. The following is a list of the winners of this Award:

      2007 – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

      2008 – Tekkon Kinkreet
      2009 – Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
      2010 – Summer Wars
      2011 – The Secret World of Arrietty
      2012 – From Up on Poppy Hill
      2013 – Wolf Children
      2014 – The Wind Rises
      2015 – Doraemon Stand By Me

This was only the second time a nominated Studio Ghibli film did not win in the category (after Tales from Earthsea in 2007).

Finally, a personal note to Japanese Film Festival director Masafumi Konomi: "Konomi-san, please include Stand By Me Doraemon in this year’s festival line-up. If not, I am afraid many fans will be looking just like Doraemon in the poster above!"

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