Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved 1986 film Castle in the Sky is making a return to the big screen — in China. The movie, which never opened theatrically in the country during its original run and subsequent rereleases around the world, has been cleared by Beijing’s censors and is set for a nationwide theatrical launch on June 1.
Miyazaki’s work is well-known and widely loved in China, thanks to the ready accessibility of pirated DVDs and downloads in the country — previously the only way to see his work there. But in recent years Studio Ghibli has begun making up for lost time by bringing select titles from Miyazaki’s catalog to Chinese multiplexes for the first time.
The maestro’s My Neighbor Totoro earned $26 million from a China rerelease in 2018, followed by Spirited Away with $69 million in 2019.
A cult favorite from Miyazaki’s oeuvre, Castle in the Sky follows a young boy and a girl with a magic crystal as they race against pirates and foreign agents in search of a legendary floating castle.
Japanese anime has become a big business in China, much as it has virtually everywhere else in the world in recent years. Makoto Shinkai, the anime talent most often dubbed Miyazaki’s heir, scored big in the country with his 2017 film, Your Name, which earned $83 million. Shinkai’s latest anime hit, Suzume, which earned over $100 million in Japan and premiered internationally at the Berlin International Film Festival last month, will open in China on March 24.