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Nearly 20 years after its release, “Howl’s Moving Castle” from the legendary Hayao Miyazaki earned over $3.2 million at the North American box office via its special presentation partnership with GKids and Fathom Events.
The 2004 feature played as part of the annual Studio Ghibli Fest, where classic features from Japan’s Miyazaki-cofounded animation house are screened nationwide. “Howl’s Moving Castle” played in over 1,000 North American theaters Sept. 23–27 and scored the No. 3 box office position on Sept. 27. It was No. 1 in per-screen average.
The next Studio Ghibli Fest presentation is “Spirited Away,” which will screen Oct. 28–Nov. 1 in theaters across North America.
This year marks the third Studio Ghibli Fest. It has generated over $13 million in box office across 10 titles and garnered over $40 million since the annual event’s debut in 2017. Each title is spread across several days, alternating between subtitled versions of the original features and dubbed versions with English language soundtracks.
“Howl’s Moving Castle” is based on a 1986 fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones and was, in part, Miyazaki’s response to the American invasion of Iraq. You can feel that antiwar streak throughout the film, which is full of typically lush visuals and rich characterizations.
Apparently, at one point, Miyazaki proclaimed it his favorite of his films. After it premiered in 2004 at the Venice International Film Festival, it was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. It ultimately lost to “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”
In the English version of the film, Christian Bale stars as Howl, Lauren Bacall voices the Witch of the Waste, Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons play Sophie and its supporting cast includes Billy Crystal, Jena Malone and Blythe Danner.
Besides the upcoming run of “Spirited Away,” GKids has “The Boy and the Heron,” the latest feature from a recently un-retired Miyazaki, which is set to debut in American theaters on Dec. 8. The highly anticipated release will also be screened in its original Japanese language with subtitles and a new English dub.