After sweeping the critics off of their feet during its world debut at the Cannes Film Festival, Belle is finally getting its North American theatrical and IMAX release this week. To celebrate the occasion, the film’s distributor, GKIDS, has released the film’s opening scene. The full feature will be available in both its original Japanese language as well as an all-new English dubbed version when it hits select IMAX theaters on January 12 followed by a theatrical release on January 14.
Belle is the latest animated film by Academy Award-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda, known for Mirai, Summer Wars, Digimon: Our War Game and others. Hosoda wrote and directed the film, with his own Studio Chizu providing the animation.
Hosoda and Studio Chizu co-founder Yuichiro Saito tapped into the talents of a dynamite creative team to bring the story of Belle to the big screen. Moana, Tangled, and Frozen character artist, Jin Kim, used his extensive background to shape protagonist Belle. Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar-Nominated team, Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart (Wolfwalkers, Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells), used their art to create the dazzling universe of Belle while architect and designer, Eric Wong, designed the virtual world of “U”. Finally, proving that no great film can be a hit without an unforgettable soundtrack, Hosoda brought in composer Ludvig Forssell, who is known for his soundtrack work in video games including Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid V.
The star studded lineup of vocal talents for the English dub will include newcomer Kylie McNeill as the titular Belle aka Suzu Naito, Paul Castro Jr. (High-Rise Invasion) as the seemingly villainous Dragon aka Kei, Ben Lepley (Aggretsuko) as Suzu’s father, Jessica DiCicco (Over the Hedge) as Suzu’s best friend Hiro-chan, Manny Jacinto (The Good Place) as Suzu’s school crush Shinobu-kun, Brandon Engman (Weathering with You) as the school’s top athlete Kamishin, Hunter Schaefer (Euphoria) as popular girl Ruka-chan, Chance Crawford (The Boys) as virtual vigilante Justin (this movie's take on Gaston), and more.
The feature, which has raked in over 6.53 billion yen in the box office to date, also took the awards and festival circuit by storm. At the Los Angeles Animation is Film Festival, Belle brought home the Special Jury Prize. Along with this award, it has received a slew of honors from groups such as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Critics Association, San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle, Austin Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critics Society, and many, many more.
Gear up to get lost in the world of Belle by watching the film’s opening scene and reading the synopsis 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.
The Japanese animation film also boasts an impressive lineup of international talents.