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GKIDS Films Picks Up Mamoru Hosoda's 'Belle' North American Rights

One thing many American animation fans have missed over the pandemic is the steady stream of wonderful animated films around the world being released in cinemas via GKIDS Films. Now with vaccines rolling out and cases falling the animation specialist distributor can begin to look to the future once again.

This week they have announced their biggest acquisition in some time and revealed that they have picked up the rights to Mamoru Hosoda's latest, Belle. The news comes ahead of the film's Japanese release this July. GKIDS previously released Hosoda's Mirai, which saw it become the first ever anime not produced by Studio Ghibli to win an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Returning to similar ground he covered in past feature Summer Wars or even his Digimon movie Our War Game, Belle will partly take place in a virtual world. GKIDS released the film's summary:

From the celebrated Oscar®-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, creator of Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and more, comes a fantastical, yet beautiful and contemporary thematic story of one girl’s growth in the age of social media.

Suzu is a 17-year-old high school student living in a rural village with her father. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. One day, she enters “U,” a virtual world of 5 billion members on the Internet. There, she is not Suzu anymore but Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets with a mysterious creature. Together, they embark on a journey of adventures, challenges and love, in their quest to become who they truly are

Belle promises to be particularly exciting to animation fans as Hosoda has enlisted some of the finest creative talents from overseas to bring his latest to life. Cartoon Saloon's Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, former Disney artist and character designer Jin Kim, British architect and graphic designer Eric Wong and composer Ludvig Forssell (know for scoring PlayStation games Metal Gear Solid V and Death Stranding) join the team to ensure this will be a truly international affair, Hosoda is both writer and director while long-term collaborator and Studio Chizu co-founder Yuichiro Saito Produces.

GKIDS will release the film theatrically in the US and Canada this Winter (all being well). It will screen in both original language and English dubbed versions.  Home entertainment releases will follow at a later date. We'll bring you more info on the release as soon as we have it!