Weekend Ponyo Thread

Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea
I know everybody is eager to talk about Ponyo this weekend, and comments are scattered around quite a bit, so I think we should have one Open Thread to talk about the movie.

Go ahead and chat with one another, share your experiences, talk about the size of the audiences in your theater, etc.

Naturally, I would ask that we all refrain from spoilers. You're all so thoughtful and considerate, so you don't need me to remind you. The Ghibli Blog has the smartest comments and discussions of any animation site on the internet, and that's a tradition we should be proud of.

I'm headed out now to see Ponyo at one of the local theaters. My original plan was to catch an early show in Edina, then see a second show in Roseville or one of the other suburbs. I may have to take the second show on Sunday, but I'd like to get a good feel for the crowds around here. It does, however, take me longer to get around, as I don't own a car.

Anyway, discuss, enjoy! And don't panic about box-office numbers. The true test of Ponyo is whether is continues to draw an audience over time. Do your part to help - bring friends and family with you to the theater. It's Miyazaki on the big screen, folks - don't pass this up.



Geoff N said...


It looks like Ponyo didn't do well.


It took 1.1M on Friday, which is only 1.26k per theater. It was actually playing in 927 theaters, not 800.

On the plus side, that is better then the 864k that Howl's made in its best week. But Howl's also had 4.28k per theatre.

It'll probably gross around 3M for the weekend, which means it will out-gross Howl's and its paltry lifetime gross of 4.7M. But I'm not sure it will surpass Spirited Away's 10M, which had the post-Oscars boost.

Sean L. said...

New Yorkers seem pretty excited about Ponyo. The preview screening I went to on Sunday sold out quickly and I almost didn't get tickets because I didn't jump on the gun! The audience (surprisingly, or perhaps not) was mostly adults, many with their kids of course. People were lining up outside the theater early, and the line extended all the way down the block. The crowd was so enthusiastic when the movie finally started, it was clear most of them knew the name Miyazaki.

I saw the movie again yesterday, and the theater was almost entirely filled. Go Ponyo! I would say more about the movie specifically, but I've posted a long review (only minor spoilers) on my personal blog for anyone interested. http://seancl.blogspot.com/2009/08/ponyo-on-cliff-by-sea.html

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I wouldn't sigh just yet. I checked the Box-Office Mojo numbers before I left, and I was actually pleased with the per-screen average.

Compared to the louder, noisier movies playing right now, it's performance is weaker. It is turning out to be a challenge.

What we should do is look at the numbers on Monday and see how they do. I'm curious to see how Saturday and Sunday performs.

The Edina theater was about 1/3-1/2 full. I went at the 4:15pm showing (it's a pain to reach by bus). It was almost exclusively parents and children, and mostly very small children. I think that speaks more about the area (Edina is a posh suburb) than anything.

Later, I talked with one father and his daughter, and he was impressed with my copy of Starting Point that I brought along to read on the bus. They both loved the movie.

If Ponyo is not a success, if people stay away, if it is ignored after all the work that's been invested, yes, I will be upset and disappointed. If that is our fate, we shall deal with it. But I'm not willing to go there yet.

One more question: how much did the Disney Autotune backlash play into this? How many stayed home because of that? Was it an issue confined solely to internet message boards, or did it ripple through the Ghibli fan base? That's a question that needs to be addressed.

As always, turnout is key. If you didn't do your part to bring new faces to see Ponyo, then why not? The public is conditioned to march into formula films; getting them to embrace something new is going to take work. You have to work the ground game, kids.

Chris said...

Still, I think none of us should forget that Ponyo is a FOREIGN FILM. How often do foreign films get this wide of a release and this much publicity? Most Americans do not go to foreign films, so these kind of numbers are pretty darn good, if you ask me.

As much as I love Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, I have to admit that, even with an American dub, it's very much a Japanese film made for a Japanese audience with Japanese concerns and Japanese cultural reactions. Taking all of this into account, I'm very pleased. Miyazaki's never going to reach a wide popularity in America. I think we all know that in our hearts. But think of all the new fans that have just been won over by his films who will probably buy a lot of Ghibli DVDs next week and in the coming weeks and begin that wonderful (and somewhat envious) exploration into the world of Miyazaki (and, hopefully, Takahata).

asuka said...

just back from seeing it in a cinema in the western suburbs of cleveland.
the cinema was smallish - around 120 seats, i'd say - and it was a bit over a third full (lets say 50 people). mostly families with little children and college students, to judge by appearances.
i hope the crowds were better earlier in the day. this was a 7:40pm screening, so a little late for the littlies.
the crowd seemed to love it, with the little children in the audience joyfully repeating ponyo's exclamations right back at the screen.
it was wonderful to see on the big screen. the artwork was so involving, i liked the structure and the ending (i feel miyazaki has taken a further step from spirited away in distilling and loosening up plot requirements), and i liked several references to earlier work (totoro, spirited away, panda ko-panda, even conan perhaps?).
i'm happy now.
even the kiddie-techno at the end didn't really matter. hey - it's a sop. and there was a little straight version of the song preceding it, so had both.
(the only thing that distracted me in the english version was cate blanchett's accent. was she channelling galadriel? i hope this doesn't count as a spoiler ^^)

Chandra said...

Just got home from seeing Ponyo! It was showing at a smaller theatre here in Austin, TX. We bought our tickets in advance and the line was wrapped around the outside of the theatre (not super fun in 100+ heat). I even took my out of town guests! The crowd at the theatre was very diverse.

As for our reactions: my 5 year old daughter LOVED it! I kept looking at her face (when I could tear it way from the screen) and she just looked blissful the entire time. I'm still processing it all myself, but I can say for certain that I thought the animation was unbelievable! The end felt a bit rushed, but overall I think it was a beautiful, wonderful, magical film.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@chris - good point. this is a foreign film. seen that way, Ponyo's exposure is quite excellent. Disney did an excellent job on all fronts. All the Miyazaki fans who have been whining for years finally received their wish. There isn't anything more Disney could have done.

It's depressing to realize that Americans are intimidated by anything that's new and different. Much of Disney's strategy is to sucker them into thinking they're seeing an American movie - title, dub, voice cast.

In my heart, I believe Miyazaki could become a household name in America, or at least a sizable part of it. But I'm an incurable optimist for these things. At least we tried.

Geoff N said...

I have not given up just yet, don't worry. =P

My hope was that it would make 5M this weekend, then have some decent legs and make 15M. Which technically is still within the realm of possibility.

Chris made a good point about the fact it is still a foreign film. So I decided to look up the rest of the foreign films.


The only foreign film in recent memory that had a relatively good opening weekend was "Hero", which had the boost of Jet Li, and it made 18M its first weekend. The only other foreign film to gross 10M or more in a week was another Jet Li film, "Fearless".

Heck, only one foreign film (Crouching Tiger) has grossed over 100M. After that, the next highest is "Life is Beautiful" with 57.5M followed by the aforementioned "Hero" with nearly 54M. No other foreign film has made over 50M at the box office. Although with ticket price inflation adjustements, there are a couple more that would.

So I guess in that context, Ponyo's numbers are much more respectable.

Michael Sporn said...

Perhaps Ponyo's getting a bigger sell outside of New York, but here there's little advertising at all. I've only seen one ad - during a Yankee game - on tv and no ads running in advance of the film's debut. Nothing. Yet the theater was packed on a Saturday night. Perhaps that had to do with the fact that only 4 theaters are showing it in Manhattan.

The film is a masterpiece by a master. I will be one of those nominating it for best picture, you can rely on it.

Sean L. said...

I'm in Manhattan as well, but I've recently seen TV spots at least 4 times on 4 different channels, no less. Maybe I watch TV too much :(.

Doug said...

Sadly, no theater in my area to see this film. I'm crestfallen.

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