• Kyodo

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Walt Disney Co. said Thursday it has acquired all theatrical, home video and television rights to director Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film, “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (“Spirited Away”), in North America.

“Spirited Away,” which set box office records in Japan, will be released in North America this fall, said Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

“We are thrilled to be associated with the great Hayao Miyazaki . . . in bringing ‘Spirited Away’ to audiences around the world,” Cook said.

John Lasseter, director of “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life,” will serve as creative consultant for the newly dubbed version, Disney said.

Under the deal, Disney has also bought the video distribution rights to the film in Japan, as well as all theatrical, home entertainment and television rights in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and France, Walt Disney said.

Disney did not disclose the amount of the deal.

In February, “Spirited Away” won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear prize. It was the first time for an animated film to win the top prize in Berlin.

The movie is Japan’s highest grossing film of all time, with 29.3 billion yen in revenues and more than 22 million admissions.

“Spirited Away” is a fantasy about a 10-year-old girl, Chihiro, who discovers a secret world when she and her family get lost and venture through a hillside tunnel. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, Chihiro must fend for herself as she encounters strange spirits, assorted creatures and a grumpy sorceress who seeks to prevent her from returning to the human world.

Toshio Suzuki, the film’s producer and head of Studio Ghibli, the production company, said, “We know the Disney team will provide the best possible release for ‘Spirited Away.’ “

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