The Walt Disney Studios has acquired all domestic theatrical, home
entertainment and TV rights to Hayao Miyazakis latest animated
blockbuster, Spirited Away, Japans all-time top grossing
film ($234 million) from Studio Ghibli. The film, which recently
won the coveted "Golden Bear Award" at the Berlin Film
Festival, will be released in the fall, with Pixars John Lasseter
serving as creative consultant for the newly dubbed version. In
addition to domestic rights, Disney will also control video rights
in Japan as well as all theatrical, home entertainment and TV rights
in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and France.
Released in Japan last July, Spirited Away follows the fanciful
adventures of a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro, who discovers a
secret world when she and her family get lost and venture through
a hillside tunnel. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation,
Chihiro must fend for herself as she encounters strange spirits,
assorted creatures and a grumpy sorceress who seeks to prevent her
from returning to the human world.
Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, commented: "Disney
and Miramax have had a very successful collaboration with Studio
Ghibli in the past and we are extremely proud to be extending that
relationship with this truly extraordinary film. John Lasseter brings
a love and respect for Miyazaki's work to his role as creative consultant
and will help ensure that this film reaches the widest possible
audience in its domestic release."
Added Producer and Studio Ghibli Head Toshio Suzuki: "We know
the Disney team will provide the best possible release for Spirited
Away. Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter have known each other
for more than 20 years, and have been great fans of each other's
work. We're so happy to have this opportunity to work together with
Lasseter noted: "Miyazaki is one of the greatest filmmakers of
our time and he has been a tremendous inspiration to generations
of animators. At Pixar, when we have a problem and we can't seem
to solve it, we often look at one of his films in our screening
room. Toy Story owes a huge debt of gratitude to the
films of Mr. Miyazaki. It is a real privilege to be involved with
one of his films and to help bring it to a whole new group of moviegoers.
Spirited Away is a magnificent film and deserves to be seen
by everyone who loves good storytelling and great characters."
Disney began its association with Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in
1996 when Disney executive Michael O. Johnson (then president of
Buena Vista Home Entertainment Worldwide) negotiated a deal to bring
nine of the Studio's films to the world. In 1998, BVHE released
the heart-warming coming-of-age family comedy Kiki's Delivery
Service. The division next released Miyazaki's masterpiece,
Princess Mononoke, on video and DVD, and is currently preparing
several other Miyazaki titles for release on both video and DVD
later this year. Princess Mononoke has sold four million
units ($130 million) to date in Japan alone.