Miyazaki's 'Titanic' ghost story

TOKYO – After seizing the crown as Japan’s highest-grossing film on home turf, the Hayao Miyazaki-helmed animation feature “Spirited Away” is on track to become its all-time B.O. champ.

The ghost story-cum-modern fairytale has clocked up a phenom $170.85 million, overtaking Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke,” which had stood as Japan’s biggest-earner with a gross of $163.56 million. It is well on its way to overtaking the market’s all-time winner “Titanic,” which grossed $219.5 million.

While summer hits from the U.S. have lost steam, “Spirited Away” has not suffered such a slowdown. Last weekend, pic eased by a mere 7% in its ninth weekend in the key cities. “It’s breathtaking for us too,” said an exec at distrib Toho.

“Spirited Away” hasn’t been released outside Japan yet. It’s believed Buena Vista Intl. (which handled “Mononoke” in some foreign markets, while Miramax had domestic) could come aboard as the distrib for some key Asian and European territories.

(Don Groves in Sydney contributed to this report.)

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