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Though Ran opened to generally positive reviews at its premiere on June 1, 1985 in Japan, it was only modestly successful financially, earning only ¥2,510,000,000 ($12 million), just enough to break even. Its U.S. release six months later earned another $2–3 million, and a re-release in 2000 accumulated $337,112.
Ran had similar indifferent luck in the awards categories: it was completed too late to be entered at Cannes and had its premiere at Japan's first Tokyo International Film Festival. Kurosawa skipped the film's premiere, angering many in the Japanese film industry. As a result, Ran was not submitted as Japan's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars. Serge Silberman then tried to get it nominated as a French co-production but failed. However, American director Sidney Lumet helped organize a successful campaign to have Kurosawa nominated as Best Director.
Roger Ebert awarded the film four out of four stars, writing, "'Ran' is a great, glorious achievement. Kurosawa often must have associated himself with the old lord as he tried to put this film together, but in the end he has triumphed, and the image I have of him, at 75, is of three arrows bundled together." In 2000, he added it to his list of great movies.
Ran was also nominated for Academy Awards for art direction, cinematography, costume design (which it won), and Kurosawa's direction. It was also successfully nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. In Japan, Ran was conspicuously not nominated for "Best Picture" at the Awards of the Japanese Academy. However, it won two prizes, for best art direction and best music score, and received four other nominations, for best cinematography, best lighting, best sound and best supporting actor (Hitoshi Ueki, who played Saburo's patron, Lord Fujimaki). Ran also won two awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for best foreign-language film and best make-up artist, and was nominated for best cinematography, best costume design, best production design, and best screenplay—adapted. Despite its limited success and reception at the time of its release, Ran has since been re-examined and its accolades have improved greatly, to the point that it is now regarded as one of Kurosawa's masterpieces.