Hayao Miyazaki, whose Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, earned his second nomination in 2006 for Howl's Moving Castle. Unlike the past two years in which computer-animated films have taken home the Oscar, CGI features were noticeably absent among the nominees, while two stop-motion animated films, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, did make the cut.
For pop culture retailers all three nominated films provide numerous merchandising opportunities. Howl's Moving Castle is coming out on DVD in March and Viz has published a 4-volume Howl's Moving Castle Film Comic ($9.99 each) as well as The Art of Howl's Moving Castle ($34.99) and The Howl's Moving Castle Picture Book ($19.99).
There is even more merchandise available for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit. Newmarket has published Tim Burton's Corpse Bride: An Invitation to the Wedding ($19.95), McFarlane Toys has put out a line of Corpse Bride action figures, and Diamond Comic Distributors is importing a line of Corpse Bride figures from the Japanese toymaker, Jun Planning. The Corpse Bride DVD arrived in stores yesterday.
The DVD of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit debuts next Tuesday (February 7). Titan Books has published a sumptuous The Art of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, and Cards Inc. is coming out with a Wallace & Gromit board game, while McFarlane Toys fielded a lineup of action figures and toys based on The Curse of the Wererabbit and Corgi has diecast models of vehicles from the film.
Which film is going to win the Oscar? Both Miyazaki and Nick Park (who won an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1990) have won before, while Burton has not and the Academy sometimes tends to award an Oscar on the basis of a body of work as much as for an individual film. Still this race remains wide open and hard to call. Miyazaki's film, while hardly his best, is visually striking and its anti-war message may resonate with some Academy members; though Howl's Moving Castle attracted a much smaller audience (it earned only $4.7 million in the U.S.) than did either Corpse Bride ($53 million) or The Curse of the Wererabbit ($56 million).