After a strong performance at the Japanese box office last year and several festivals and special screenings across the country, Belle will finally premiere in US theaters this week. And you can watch the opening scene of Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu’s latest feature film right now, courtesy of GKIDS.
Hosoda founded Studio Chizu after directing popular films at Toei Animation and Madhouse like Digimon Adventure, One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time — not to mention a brief stint at Studio Ghibli as the original director for Howl’s Moving Castle. Belle is the studio’s fourth film, following 2018’s Academy Award-nominated Mirai.
In Belle, Hosoda returns to one of his recurring themes: connection across social media. In the virtual world U, briefly shown in the preview, as imagined by British architect Eric Wong. Studio Chizu worked with the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers, Late Afternoon) to develop the stunning background art.
The preview also shows off the film’s English dub, produced by GKIDS and NYAV Post, starring Kylie McNeill as Suzu and her titular avatar, Belle. As McNeill’s first lead role, she’ll perform an English version of the film’s original soundtrack performed by singer-songwriter Kaho Nakamura. GKIDS says Taisei Iwasaki, Takayuki Chiyo, and Ludvig Forssell supervised the soundtracks’ adaptation into English. Mila Records will release the soundtrack on Jan. 14.
Veteran voice actors Chace Crawford, Manny Jacinto, and Hunter Schafer will star alongside McNeill.
Select IMAX theaters will preview Belle on Jan. 12 ahead of its limited theatrical release on Jan. 14. Both Japanese and English language versions will screen.