Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 Classic 'Spirited Away' Finally Gets Release in China

'Spirited Away'

The Oscar-winning anime classic, which still holds the all-time Japanese box office record, will hit Chinese screens after an almost two-decade delay.

Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, an anime classic that won an Oscar and broke box office records, will finally debut June 21 in Chinese theaters, 18 years after its initial bow in Japan. 

The release follows that of Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro in China in December last year, the first Studio Ghibli production to get an official release in China.

My Neighbor Totoro took more than $26 million during its Chinese theatrical run, some 30 years after it was released in Japan. Miyazaki has legions of fans in China who predominantly know his work through pirated DVDs and downloads.

Spirited Away, which won the best animated feature Oscar in 2003, would be expected to outperform My Neighbor Totoro. Spirited Away was released in 2001 in Japan and still holds the all-time domestic box office record with $275 million (304 billion yen) ahead of Titanic. In 2017, Makoto Shinkai's feature Your Name became the highest-grossing anime worldwide, helped in no small part by the $83 million it took in China.

Spirited Away is a magical tale centered around a young girl who enters the spirit world after her family's car breaks down in a mysterious forest. It was hailed as an instant classic upon release and won numerous international awards, including the Golden Bear for best film at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the Oscar for best animated feature at the 2003 Oscars. 

All foreign films screened in China must win government approval. The Spirited Away release is a sign that Sino-Japanese relations are beginning to thaw after extended periods of tension. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have held bilateral talks at international events over the last couple of years and the Chinese leader will be in Osaka in June for the G20 economic summit .