Anime maestro Makoto Shinkai’s latest feature Suzume has locked down its much anticipated theatrical release dates in North America, Europe, Latin America and Australia. The film will hit North American cinemas on April 14, courtesy of distribution partners Crunchyroll, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Wild Bunch International and Eurozoom.
Other territories set for release include France and Malta on April 12; Australia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and New Zealand on April 13; and Austria, Belgium, Gibraltar, Ireland, Luxembourg and the U.K. on April 14, day and date with North America.
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Suzume is Shinkai’s follow-up to Weathering With You (2019), which earned $193 million worldwide and was Japan’s official submission to the Oscars in the best international film category last year. His 2016 creative and commercial breakthrough Your Name set a new standard for the global potential of Japanese anime, earning $358 million worldwide from a production budget of just $6 million.
A light youth fantasy, Suzume tells the coming-of-age story of the 17-year-old protagonist, Suzume, set in various disaster-stricken locations across Japan, “where she must close doors causing devastation.”
Continues Crunchyroll’s summary: “Never-before-seen scenery, encounters and farewells… A myriad of challenges await her on her journey. Despite all the obstacles in her way, Suzume’s adventure shines a ray of hope upon our own struggles against the toughest roads of anxiety and constraints that make up everyday life. This story of closing doors that connect our past to the present and future will leave a lasting impression upon all of our hearts.”
Suzume has been embraced by critics in Asia, with some hailing it as one of Shinkai’s most accomplished works to date, featuring his usual stunning visuals but a firmer hand on the whimsical and emotional storytelling.
Anime’s global popularity has been on a relentless climb for some time — even throughout the industry hardships of the pandemic. During the height of lockdowns in 2020, when total U.S. box office sales fell 80 percent for the year and Japan’s theatrical market slipped 45 percent, Japan’s total anime industry contracted just 3.5 percent, with a market value of about $21.3 billion (more than 2.4 trillion yen). In that same fraught year, the anime business also produced its biggest theatrical hit of all time: Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, an action-packed period fantasy that earned nearly $48 million in North America, $365 million in Japan and $504 million worldwide.
Japanese anime has continued to put up big numbers in 2022. The recently released franchise installment One Piece Film Red has earned $133 million in Japan and $12.8 million in North America for a worldwide total of $166 million and counting.
According to consultancy Parrot Analytics, global demand for anime content grew 118 percent over the past two years, making it one of the fastest-growing content genres (the firm measures its demand metric by combining consumption data with social media activity, social video and independent research).
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