Miyazaki’s Howl Heard All Over Japan

Although most American and European box-office watchers are chronicling the performances of The Incredibles, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The Polar Express this week, a different kind of animated movie is setting records in Japan. Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle took in a $14.3 million on 448 screens last weekend, making up for 72% of the region’s box office, according to Variety.

Based on a fantasy book written by Diana Wynne Jones with a script by Reiko Yoshida, the movie centers on an enchanted 18-year-old named Sophie who is trapped inside an old woman’s body and her encounter with a wizard named Hauru who inhabits a magical moving castle. Reportedly, Disney will release the film in the U.S. some time next year. To find out more about the project, visit www.howlthemovie.com.

Miyazaki fans can also look forward to the DVD release of three of the Japanese masters earlier works–Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns– on February 22. To be released by Walt Disney Home Entertainment and Studio Ghibli, these two-disc packages will feature English-language voice cast in addition to the original Japanese language tracks, storyboards and behind-the-scenes featurettes, all presented in a pristine digital format. The English-lingo version of Nausicaa features the voice talents of Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Alison Lohman and Edward James Olmos. Porco Rosso offers the voices of Michael Keaton, Brad Garrett and Kimberly Williams, while The Cat Returns showcases the vocals of Anne Hathwaway, Cary Elwes, Peter Boyle, Elliot Gould, Andy Richter. Each title will be available for $29.99.