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Mamoru Hosoda’s animated tale “The Boy and the Beast,” which is repped by Gaumont, has attracted distributors across Europe.

Produced by Studio Chizu and Nippon TV, “The Boy and the Beast” has pre-sold to Studiocanal in the U.K., Lucky Red in Italy, Madman in Australia and A Contracorriente in Spain. Gaumont’s deputy head of sales Yohann Comte said the company was closing Switzerland and is sifting through offers  for Germany and the U.S..

“The fact that we’ve almost closed most of Europe underscores the rising profile of Mamoru Hosoda, who is perceived by many as the heir of Hayao Miyazaki,” said Comte. “Since Miyazaki has announced he was (retiring), buyers are particularly interested in showcasing another Japanese animation talent.”

“Beast” is  a coming-of-age tale about Kyuta, a lonely Japanese boy living in Shibuya, and Kumatetsu, a lonesome beast inhabiting Jutengai, an imaginary world. One day, Kyuta forays into the imaginary world and, as he’s looking for his way back, meets Kumatetsu, who becomes his guide and friend.

Gaumont is shopping the arthouse toonpic with a showreel at the European Film Market. Nippon TV reps Asian territories.

Hosoda earned critical and commercial acclaim with his last film “Wolf Children,” which was a hit in France, where Eurozoom distributed.

Toho is expected to roll out the film in Japan on July 11; Gaumont is planning a release in late 2015 or early 2016.