The Guillermo del Toro robots-versus-monsters epic, inspired by Japanese kaiju (monster) pics, scored $3.04 million from 134,506 admissions.
"World War Z," earned $3.38 million for the number two slot, selling 236,910 tickets.
The Hayao Mizazaki-directed toon "The Wind Rises" won its fourth weekend in a row, boosting its cume to $57 million. For the year to date, this is second only to "Monsters University," with a total of $68 million on 4.5 million admissions.
Prior to the opening of "World War Z," both Brad Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie made the PR rounds in Japan. "Pacific Rim" helmer Guillermo del Toro and star Rinko Kikuchi also appeared before the fans, but local coverage centered on the charming nine-year-old Mana Ashida, who has a supporting role in the pic.
But neither Ashida nor Kikuchi have the star power of Pitt. Also, their pic lacked the sort of franchise branding that powered the many knock-offs and spin-offs of the original "Godzilla" (1954) to B.O. heights in Japan, until the series finally began to flag.
The last "Godzilla" pic, "Godzilla: Final Wars"(2004) finished with a mediocre $13 million at the Japanese BO and producer Toho has no immediate plans to make another, though it is distribbing the Hollywood "Godzilla" reboot that Gareth Edwards is helming and Warner and Legendary Pictures are producing. Release is skedded for May, 2014.
The okay performance of "Pacific Rim" in Japan stands in contrast to its powerful showing in China. There it held on to its number one spot for the second week, taking $33.9 million despite strong competition from local franchise movie "Tiny Times 2.0." That lifted its cumulative total to $79.5 million.
© 2013 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC