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Spirited Away Wide Release Confirmed

posted on by Christopher Macdonald
Set to open in theaters across the country.

Living up to its word, Disney today officially announced a wide theatrical release of Spirited Away. While the press release makes no mention of the number of theatres, Cartoon Research earlier stated that they expected to see it in 800 theatres, a number that has also been mentioned by the LA Times. Generally, Full "wide releases" are considered to be 1000+ theatres.

The press release doen't mention what kind of marketing push Disney will be giving to the new theatrical release. In fact, the only new piece of information in the press release is the following phrase: "Spirited Away ... is set to open in theaters across the country on Friday March 28th."

There has also been no mention yet of whether or not the Spirited Away DVD is still set to be released on April 15th, or if Disney plans to delay its release to give the theatrical release more time.

Excerpts from Press Release:

"Spirited Away," the 2003 Academy Award® winning animated feature from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, is set to open in theaters across the country on Friday March 28th, it was announced today (3/25) by Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. The film, which claimed top honors in its category at the Sunday night Oscar® ceremonies, was one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2002 and was selected by many leading journalists as one of their "top ten" films of last year. "Spirited Away" has previously received the Annie Award (from ASIFA-Hollywood), the Golden Bear Award (from the Berlin Film Festival), and was honored as the year's best animated film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and National Board of Review.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, "We're thrilled that the Academy has chosen to honor 'Spirited Away' for its incredible achievement in storytelling and artistry and we're proud to be associated with legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki in bringing his masterpiece to moviegoers across the country. The film is far and away the most successful film to ever play in Japan and it has always been our desire to share this film with the widest possible audience here in the U.S. With this important Oscar® recognition, the film will have the additional awareness and appeal needed to find a welcome reception. All of us at Disney are extremely proud to have had three of this year's nominees in the Best Animated Feature category and to have played a part in bringing the award-winning 'Spirited Away' to moviegoers.

"Spirited Away" follows the fanciful adventures of a ten-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.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most highly regarded directors/animators/comic artists in Japan. His movies are beloved by all generations of Japanese people, and have enjoyed huge successes both commercially and critically. He started his career as an animator at Toei Animation Studios in 1963 and was involved with such popular TV series as "Heidi" and "Future Boy Conan." In 1979, he directed his first film, "Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro." He went on to direct the 1984 feature, "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind," a highly sophisticated film that was as popular with adult audiences as it was with children. The success of "Nausicaä" led Tokuma Publishing to establish Studio Ghibli, a new animation studio for Miyazaki and his longtime colleague, Isao Takahata. Among the films that Miyazaki has written and directed for Ghibli are "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" (1986), "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988), "Kiki's Delivery Service" (1989), "Porco Rosso" (1992) and "Princess Mononoke" (1997). In less than four months, "Princess Mononoke" broke the all-time box office record in Japan (previously established by "E.T." in 1982). In addition to the films that he has personally directed, Miyazaki produced such other Ghibli films as "Only Yesterday" (1991), "Pom Poko" (1994) and "Whispers of the Heart" (1995).

This article has a follow-up: Spirited Away: More Reaction and Analysis (2003-03-26 15:45)
follow-up of Spirited Away to Receive Wide Release?
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