Mamoru Hosoda’s ‘Belle’ Sells to Major Western Territories, Including U.K., France (EXCLUSIVE)

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Paris-based sales and co-production company Charades has closed deals for all major Western territories on “Belle,” the anticipated animation feature from Oscar-nominated Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda (“Mirai”) and Studio Chizu.

Following GKids’ pick up of North American rights, Charades has unveiled a raft of sales to high-profile international distributors for “Belle,” including Anime Limited in the U.K., and France in association with Wild Bunch, A Contracorriente in Spain, Koch Media in Italy and German-speaking territories and Selmer in Scandinavia. Other deals were inked with BF Distribution in Latin America, ACFC for Czech Republic, Exponenta in Russia and Baltics. Charades also sold the movie to Troy Lum’s new banner Kismet in Australia and New Zealand. It marks Kismet’s first acquisition.

The size of deals closed on “Belle” underscores both the international status of Hosoda and the rising popularity of Japanese anime.

“Hosoda is the only Japanese animation director today capable of bringing all generations in front of the same cinema screen,” said Yohann Comte, co-founder of Charades, who has developed a relationship with Hosoda since working on his 2015 film “The Boy and The Beast.”

“While Japanese animation is no longer a niche, ‘Belle’ comes at the right time and the level of distributors who committed to the film illustrate the league which Hosoda is playing in now,” added Comte.

Penned and directed by Hosoda, “Belle” centers on Suzu, a 17-year-old high school student living in a rural village with her father. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself until one day she enters “U,” a virtual world of 5 billion members on the Internet. There, she is not Suzu anymore but Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets with a mysterious creature and they embark on a journey of adventures, challenges and love in their quest to become who they truly are.

Hosoda’s ninth feature, “Belle” reteams the helmer with Studio Chizo and Charades following “Mirai,” which world premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2018, won the Annie Award for best animated feature, and scored an Oscar nomination. Nippon Television handles rights sales for “Belle” in Asia.

Besides “The Boy and The Beast” and “Mirai,” Hosoda’s popular films include “Wolf Children,” “Summer Wars” and “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.”

Hosoda and Studio Chizu co-founder Yuichiro Saito are producers on the title. The Japanese creative team worked in collaboration with a roster of international talents. Character designer Jin Kim, the artist (“Moana, Tangled,” “Frozen”) designed the titular Belle. Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar-nominated Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart (“Wolfwalkers,” “The Secret of Kells”) contributed artwork for the various virtual fantasy worlds within the film.

Gkids said earlier this week that it will release “Belle” theatrically in both its original Japanese language and an English dubbed version this winter to qualify it for 2021 awards consideration.