Acclaimed filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda’s long awaited Belle is finally coming to cinemas! GKIDS, the distributor of many Academy Award-nominated animated featured, made the announcement that they will bring Belle to theaters nationwide on January 14th 2022. The company accompanied the announcement with two new teaser trailers and several images from the film on their website.
Mamoru Hosoda is quickly climbing his way to becoming one of the directing legends in the world of animation. His past films, including The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast, have all received worldwide critical acclaim. His previous film, 2018’s Mirai, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. Belle already had its initial release in Japan on July 16th and has grown to become Hosoda’s highest-grossing film to date. The summary for the film, from the GKIDS website, is below.
Suzu is a shy, everyday high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by vigilantes. As their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone.
What makes Belle stand out among Hosoda’s previous films is that there is quite a bit of collaboration involved. The film was primarily created by Studio Chizu, but also pulled in creative talent from outside sources. Character designer Jin Kim, who’s portfolio includes Disney’s Moana, Tangled and Frozen, designed the titular online persona Belle. Cartoon Saloon’s Tomm Morre and Ross Stewart (who’s previous work involved Wolfwalkers, Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells) also contributed artwork for the many virtual worlds that can be seen within the film. Hosoda also was accompanied by architect and designer Eric Wong, who designed the online utopia of U. Finally, composer Ludvig Forssell, who’s previous work includes video game titles such as Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid V, joined the score team.
Belle made its initial premiere at the Cannes Film Festival to which it received a 14-minute standing ovation. According to Anime News Network, Hosoda was not initially scheduled to do a post-screening speech. But after the overwhelming praise, he had this to say.
“I was really relieved for BELLE to be seen by the audience for the first time in the world and to receive so much applause as well. I think this film has a unique flavor even among the Cannes Film Festival selections, but to have it supported in this place where people who love film gather is very encouraging and gives me strength. This film is a blessing.”
Belle‘s North American premiere was at the New York Film Festival later in the year. The film also played in competition at the London Film Festival and Fantastic Fest. The film will also have its west coast premiere in Los Angeles at the upcoming Animation is Film Festival. GKIDS will qualify the film for 2021 awards consideration. The film will release theatrically in both an English dubbed version as well as in its original Japanese language with English subtitles.