FUNimation Entertainment has acquired all U.S. rights to Mamoru Hosoda’s animated tale “The Boy and the Beast” from Gaumont Intl.

Produced by Studio Chizu and Nippon TV, “Beast” is a coming-of-age tale about Kyuta, a lonely Japanese boy, and Kumatetsu, a lonesome beast inhabiting an imaginary world.

The movie will be released by FUNimation’s new launched theatrical events and distribution branch based in New York.

“We’re excited to bring ‘The Boy and the Beast’ to audiences across the United States,” said FUNimation CEO and founder Gen Fukunaga. “Mamoru Hosoda is a masterful director and has made Japanese animated film accessible to everyone.”

The toon is being talked about as a potential 2016 Oscar contender.

“We are looking forward to working with Gaumont Intl. and plan to release ‘The Boy and the Beast’ to theaters beginning in late 2015,” said Mike DuBoise, FUNimation’s exec VP and COO. “We’re confident that critics and moviegoers will quickly agree that this is an Oscar-worthy film.”

Gaumont’s deputy head of sales Yohann Comte, who negotiated the deal, said Gaumont had received offers from other distributors but “chose to work with FUNimation because the company has been faithful to Hosoda’s work since the beginning, and they also have the ambition and commitment to screen the film to the widest possible audience.”

FUNimation has distributed two other Hosoda movies in the U.S. (on VOD and homevideo) including the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “Wolf Children” in 2013 and “Summer Wars” in 2010. Hosoda’s “Wolf Children” traveled to more than 90 countries.

FUNimation will release “The Boy and the Beast” in select theaters in late 2015 and nationwide in early 2016.

FUNimation’s first theatrical rollout will be “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F,” which is scheduled
to come out this summer in the U.S. and Canada.