Animation house makes plans on Japan market

TOKYO — Studio Ghibli, the animation house that helmer Hayao Miyazaki built, plans to distribute foreign toons in the Japanese market.

Biz will be run by the Ghibli Museum, which has presented animation displays and screenings at its site in Mitaka, Tokyo, since opening in 2001.

Ghibli will exhib art toons from abroad at the Cinema Angelika in Shibuya, a Tokyo entertainment hub.

It will also release foreign toons on DVD with the co-operation of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, which has handled Ghibli’s own projects, including Miyazaki hits “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke.”

Ghibli’s first foreign toon theatrical release, skedded for March 17, is Russian animator Alexander Petrov’s “The Awakening of Spring,” a new toon made in a style resembling oil painting on glass. Petrov won an Oscar in 1999 in the animated short category for “The Old Man and the Sea.” 

Ghibli’s first DVD release will be Paul Grimault’s “The King and Mockingbird” (Le Roi et l’oiseau), a 1980 French toon that Miyazaki has claimed as an inspiration.

Appearing at press conference at the Angelika on Tuesday to announce the distrib initiative, Petrov said, “It’s the fate of art films to have few chances to be distributed theatrically — I’m truly appreciative of this plan.”

At the conference Ghibli prexy Toshio Suzuki said Ghibli has begun work on a pic, but will not announce the director and title until March.

Anime blogs and fan sites have named Miyazaki as the director and the title as “I Lost My Little Boy,” with a story based on a Chinese novella, but Suzuki would not confirm this.

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