Miyazaki pic holds Japan's B.O. record with $200 mil

One of the great ironies of this year’s feature animation Oscar contest is that the film with the best reviews, created by the best-known animator, with the biggest box office before its U.S. bow, is the one that did diddly-squat in U.S. theaters.

“Spirited Away,” by Japan’s Hayao Miyazaki, is the first film of any kind to gross more than $200 million before its U.S. release (it holds Japan’s box office record). And it was the only animated feature to land on critics’ Top 10 lists this year.

While some Academy voters may see the nomination as a chance to honor Miyazaki for his storied body of work, the film barely registered at the tills Stateside.

It earned just $5.7 million despite extraordinary reviews.

Even fellow Disney release “Treasure Planet” did better, bagging $38 million in U.S. booty despite a fusillade of critical knocks. DreamWorks’ “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” saddled up $73 million, Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch,” surfed to $146 million, and Fox’s “Ice Age” did the best domestically, collecting a mammoth $176 million.

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