Japan Data

Chihiro Leads the Way: A Box Office Ranking of Studio Ghibli Films

Anime Cinema Culture

Spirited Away has the highest Japanese box office for a Studio Ghibli film at ¥31.7 billion. The 2001 release held the record for being the highest-grossing film ever in Japan for more than 20 years.

Miyazaki Hayao’s latest film How Do You Live? is set for release on July 14, 2023. It is his first full-length animation since The Wind Rises in 2013. Following that movie’s release, he initially announced his retirement, and then in 2017 reported that he was working on another film.

Spirited Away (2001) tops the Japanese box office ranking of Studio Ghibli’s films to date with ¥31.7 billion, including the total for revival showings. In fact, it was the highest grossing film ever in Japan for more than 20 years until 2021, when it was dethroned by Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, which eventually reached a total of ¥40.4 billion. Spirited Away also won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, catapulting Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki Hayao to global fame.

Princess Mononoke is second on the list with ¥20.2 billion (including revivals). All of the top five Ghibli films are directed by Miyazaki Hayao. The ranking below is dominated by films since 2000, which are highlighted.

Top 10 Studio Ghibli Films by Japanese Box Office

1 Spirited Away (Miyazaki Hayao; 2001) ¥31.7 billion
2 Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki Hayao; 1997) ¥20.2 billion
3 Howl’s Moving Castle (Miyazaki Hayao; 2004) ¥19.6 billion
4 Ponyo (Miyazaki Hayao; 2008) ¥15.5 billion
5 The Wind Rises (Miyazaki Hayao; 2013) ¥12.0 billion
6 Arrietty (Yonebayashi Hiromasa; 2010) ¥9.3 billion
7 Tales from Earthsea (Miyazaki Gorō; 2006) ¥7.8 billion
8 The Cat Returns (Morita Hiroyuki; 2001) ¥6.5 billion
9 Porco Rosso (Miyazaki Hayao; 1992) ¥4.8 billion
10 Pom Poko (Takahata Isao; 1994) ¥4.5 billion

Created by Nippon.com based on data from past articles and other film websites. Highlights indicate films released since 2000.

Box office success, however, does not always match up with the films’ popularity with viewers. A 2022 survey by Line Research found that My Neighbor Totoro was the overall fan favorite, although its box office was only ¥1.2 billion, a fraction of that for Spirited Away, which was in second place. The other films in the top five fan favorites all failed to make the above box office ranking: Castle in the Sky (¥1.2 billion), Kiki’s Delivery Service (¥3.7 billion), and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (¥2.2 billion).

Studio Ghibli became a household name in Japan through its major hits Princess Mononoke in 1997 and Spirited Away in 2001. This guaranteed strong box office showings from all the films that followed. However, many of the studio’s most popular films date from the 1980s; although they did not gross especially highly, subsequent television showings over the years won them a firm place in viewers’ hearts, often as shared family experiences.

Box Office for Studio Ghibli’s Fan-Favorite Films

A scene from My Neighbor Totoro (© Studio Ghibli)
A scene from My Neighbor Totoro. (© Studio Ghibli)

(Translated from Japanese. Banner image: Clockwise from left are scenes from Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Howl’s Moving Castle. © Studio Ghibli.)

Studio Ghibli Miyazaki Hayao animation