According to Box Office Mojo Buena Vista plans to release Hayao Miyazaki's latest feature film, Howl's Moving Castle, in the U.S. this June.  The film was released some seven weeks ago in Japan and has already earned more than $100 million and attracted an audience of more than 10 million Japanese moviegoers.  Howl's Moving Castle has also quickly become the most popular Japanese film ever released in South Korea where it has garnered an audience of over 2.16 million in just three weeks.  A June release could ensure that the Howl's Moving Castle DVD would be out by the end of the year -- which is good news for retailers since Miyazaki's two most recent films, Spirited Away (2001) and Princess Mononoke (1999) ranked in the Top 5 anime DVDs sold during 2004 -- an unbelievably strong performance for 'backlist' titles!


Meanwhile Miyazaki, who rarely grants interviews, is the subject of an interview/profile in this week's edition of the New Yorker.  In an article entitled 'The Auteur of Anime,' Margaret Talbot pays homage to Japan's most influential anime director.  While the New Yorker's audience is admittedly somewhat rarefied, look for more coverage of Miyazaki's work in a wide range of publications during the coming year.


In just six weeks (on Feb. 22nd) Buena Vista will release three Studio Ghibli films for the first time in the U.S., Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns.  Miyazaki produced, but did not direct, The Cat Returns, but Nausicaa and Porco Rosso are true Miyazaki masterpieces that should be in the collection of every anime fan and also have a wide appeal to people of all ages who may not even be aware of anime.  Nausicaa, though it was one of Miyazaki's first features (made way back in 1986), may be his best film, but Porco Rosso, with its superb flying sequences and action-packed storyline, might have the strongest appeal to older customers.


In February Viz is also releasing The Art of Porco Rosso, a stunning collection of drawings, watercolors and cel art (primarily by Miyazaki, a superb artist who drew the Nausicaa manga and continues to draw key frames for all his films). 


2005 may well be the year in which a large number of Americans discover one of the world's greatest and most accessible filmmakers.  With the release of Howl's Moving Castle as well as Nausicca and Porco Rosso almost the entire Miyazaki canon will be available (except My Neighbor Totoro). These are films that any retailer who carries any anime should have in stock and never hesitate to recommend.