Preview by: Jack Foley
THE latest film from Oscar winning Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki,
has set a new box office record in his home country, taking 1.5bn
yen ($14.3m) in its first two days of release.
The film, Howl's Moving Castle, is based on the popular children's
fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones, and marks Miyazaki's eagerly-anticipated
follow-up to his Oscar winner, Spirited
Away (which won the best animation category).
Translated to Japanese, the film is known as Hauru no Ugokujou.
The film tells the story of an 18-year-old girl, Sophie, who
becomes trapped in an old woman's body after being put under a
spell by a witch.
Determined to return to her normal
self, Sophie seeks out the help of the Wizard Howl, who has a
moving castle, which is powered by a fire demon named Calcifer.
The ensuing adventure - apparently told with all the visual flare
we have come to expect from Miyazaki - registered the highest
opening weekend takings of any Japanese film in the country, according
to Screen Daily.
The takings represent 1.1 million cinema admissions, and go some
way to justifying claims by the film's distributor, Toho, that
40 million people will see it in total - almost one third of the
The film, which could well emerge as another possible Oscar contender
for Miyazaki, is also performing well on the festival circuit.
At Venice, for instance, it won the Golden Osella for outstanding