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Weathering With You, the latest release from Japanese anime phenom Makoto Shinkai, is heading to China’s massive theatrical market.
The film has been approved by Beijing’s censors and will hit Chinese screens sometime later this year, state media reported Monday. A precise release date has not yet been unveiled.
Released at home in Japan on July 19, Weathering With You has earned a whopping $109 million at the country’s slow-burn domestic box office. It soon should top Disney’s live-action Aladdin, which has earned $112 million since early June, to become Japan’s biggest theatrical release of 2019.
Weathering With You is Shinkai’s much anticipated follow-up to his 2017 breakthrough, Your Name, which earned an astonishing $357.9 million worldwide, including $235.3 million in Japan and $83.7 million in China.
Despite painful historical legacies, Beijing and Tokyo have enjoyed a relative geopolitical thaw in recent years, which has helped Japanese cinema establish a foothold in the Middle Kingdom’s huge theatrical sector. Hayao Miyazaki’s famed Studio Ghibli has cashed in on the anime master’s back catalog in China by re-releasing fan favorites like Spirited Away ($69 million) and My Neighbor Totoro ($25.8) to huge returns. Even refined Japanese arthouse fare, such as Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2018 Cannes Palme D’or winner Shoplifters (released last year to $14.1 million), has found a bankable audience in China.
Like Your Name, Weathering With You again feature’s Shinkai’s signature teenage-romantic magical realism. When a rural teenage boy named Hodaka moves to the big city, he meets Hina, a girl his age who possesses the ability to alter the weather, at a time when Japan is suffering from excessive rainfall. The film’s vivid animated depictions of Tokyo’s vast cityscapes have especially impressed critics.
Weathering With You was picked up for North American distribution by GKIDS and made its regional bow at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. It also is Japan’s entry for the best international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.
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