daniel thomas Categories: omohide poro poro
Isao Takahata's 1991 masterpiece, Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday), is closing out its limited theatrical run in the US. This is a good time to take stock of its performance.
According to Box Office Mojo, the movie has earned $415,941 as of March 27, 2016, playing on a total of 44 screens. A dozen theaters await their releases in April (our master list will be updated to reflect this), which will add to the total. I personally remain hopeful that we can break $500,000, which would be a very good achievement for a movie of this nature, and its very limited run.
I used to get worked up whenever a Studio Ghibli film failed to gain any mainstream momentum in US theaters, but not much anymore. Animation in this country remains stuck in the ghetto of "electric babysitter," suitable only for pacifying small children and getting them out of their parents' hair. That paradigm is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. And it's pretty obvious that Isao Takahata doesn't fit into that paradigm at all, unless we were to consider the 1974 Heidi TV series.
Omohide Poro Poro is an Ozu film set to watercolors. It's very unique and unlike anything seen in the West. Even diehard film buffs will require multiple viewings, and a knowledge of Japanese history and culture, to appreciate its depths. It's far easier to run to the multiplex and watch Batman v Superman, and sit back and have a fun time.
This film, like all of Studio Ghibli's works, will find its audience on home video, and its reputation will grow in time. Even then, these will always remain off the mainstream path, in the thickets. But that's alright. Many of the best discoveries in life lie off the beaten path. If you want "mainstream," you'll end up with shopping malls, fast food chains and reality shows. The gormet food requires some effort to discover, but the rewards are there.
I'm definitely looking forward to GKIDS' inevitable Blu-Ray release, which should include both English and Japanese language soundtracks and some nice extras. If you have the chance, definitely go see the movie. You'll never know when you'll get a chance to see Ghibli on the big screen again.