The Studio Chizu-produced coming of age tale will release in Japan next month. Gkids says it will release ‘Belle” theatrically in both its original Japanese language and an English dubbed version this winter, and will qualify the film for 2021 awards consideration.
Nippon Television handles rights sales for the film in Asia. Paris-based sales company Charades is representing the film in other international markets.
The story follows 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. One day, she enters U, a virtual world of 5 billion members and where she has become Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets with a mysterious creature and embark on a journey of adventures, challenges and love, in their quest to become who they truly are.
“Hosoda is a master at exploring humans’ relationship with technology in a changing world,” said Eric Beckman, CEO and founder of Gkids. “ ’Belle’ expands on the threads and themes of his previous works in an epic tour-de-force that is visually stunning, emotionally stirring, and deeply profound.”
The film is Hosoda’s ninth feature after Wolf Children, Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and follows the 2018 Oscar-nominated “Mirai,” which premiered at Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight and received the Annie Award for best animated feature.
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.
Hosoda also continued his film collaborations with architects and is joined by up-and-coming British architect and designer Eric Wong, who designed the virtual world of “U.” Ludvig Forssell provided the music score.
Gkids has a track record of distributing major international animated film in North America. Its filmography includes “The Secret of Kells,” “A Cat in Paris,” “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” “My Life as a Zucchini” and Hosoda’s “Mirai” in 2019. It also handles North American distribution for the Studio Ghibli library of films.