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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Pearl Harbor battles AI in Japan
Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale in the film
The film has been marketed as a love story in Japan
Disney and Warner Brothers are both claiming victory at last weekend's Japanese box office.

Disney's Pearl Harbor took the top spot last weekend with a $7.2m (5.1m) gross, including the revenue from sneak previews on the previous Saturday.

This makes Pearl Harbor Disney's best earning Japanese film, and the sixth-highest weekend opening for a Japanese film.

Steven Spielberg's AI took $5.4m (3.8m) in its third weekend. It has now taken an impressive $37m (26m) in Japan.

Jude Law as Gigolo Joe in A.I.
A.I.: Still riding high in Japanese box office
Warner Brothers says that AI's third weekend takings were marginally better than Pearl Harbor's, if the takings from sneak previews are excluded.

The film industry always includes the revenue of sneak previews in first weekend figures, however.

Most tellingly, Pearl Harbor's 182-minute running time means it can only be shown three times a day. AI has a shorter running time and is playing on 518 screens in comparison to Pearl Harbor's 430.

'Sensitive'

For all the controversy Pearl Harbor has generated in Japan, the box office figures go along way to dispelling the studio's concerns about how well it would be received in a key foreign market.

Critics in Japan responded more favourably than those in the US and UK, who slated the film for its poor dialogue and weak plot lines.

Parts of the script were changed for the Japanese version of the film and it is marketed as a love story, not a war movie.

Michael Bay and Ben Affleck
Director Michael Bay (l) and star Ben Affleck (r) at Pearl Harbor's Tokyo premiere
Apart from emphasising the love rather than the war element, marketers Buena Vista International admitted that the script had been written in order to take Japanese sensitivities into account.

In the film, an explanation is given as to why the Japanese navy bombed Pearl Harbor - because the Americans had embargoed Japan's oil supplies.

Japanese military leaders are depicted as noble warriors who were in conflict over the decision to bomb Pearl Harbor.

Emphasis is put on the Japanese navy's reluctance to go to war rather than the imperial army's insistence on it.

Details of World War II are glossed over in school textbooks, and few Japanese films are prepared to tackle such a controversial subject.

See also:

02 Jul 01 | Film
AI tops US box office
21 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pearl Harbor protests fall flat
25 May 01 | Reviews
Pearl Harbor sinks fast
22 May 01 | Film
Pearl Harbor: Reliving history
04 Jun 01 | Reviews
Pearl Harbor: Your views
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