Releases surpassed the total of 356 from the previous year, with six titles earning more than ¥5 billion ($42 million) at the boxoffice. The top earner was the Studio Ghibli animated title Tales From Earthsea, which brought in around ¥7.8 billion ($66 million), followed by Limit of Love, which earned some ¥7.1 billion ($62 million).
And while the dedicated film studios have fared well, Japan's terrestrial broadcasters have tested the waters this year like never before, edging from telefilms toward full-length theatrical releases.
"2006 is clearly a turning point for us -- we could even say it's epoch-making -- because we are likely to achieve the best boxoffice records since we started this business," said Makito Sugiyama, deputy vp of the content business department at Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.
"We are forging ahead to provide increasingly exciting entertainment and challenging new genres that we have not tried before --such as comedy and action titles," he said.
"We have also found that one of the advantages of a TV broadcaster producing full features is that we are able to develop both features and TV drama series based on the same source, as we have done with 'Memories of Matsuko' and 'Sayonara Game Kisarazu Cats' Eye.' "
TBS produced seven feature films in 2006, including The Sinking of Japan, which earned an impressive $44 million at the boxoffice, and Nana 2.
Household names in the cast have helped boost sales, according to Sugiyama, which has a knock-on effect in terms of foreign sales.