SHANGHAI--Eighteen years after its release in Japan, Hayao Miyazaki’s smash hit “Spirited Away” is now the box-office leader in China.

The anime has pulled in 300 million yuan (4.7 billion yen, or $44 million) as of June 28.

For its June 21 premiere in Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, the film gained about 54 million yuan at the box office, according to the Xinjingbao newspaper and other media.

The figure tripled that for Walt Disney Co.’s “Toy Story 4,” which premiered on the same day.

Miyazaki’s work is titled “Qian Yu Qian Xun” in Chinese.

Works directed by Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli Inc., which he co-founded, are highly popular in China. But it was only in December 2018 that one of them, “My Neighbor Totoro,” was officially screened in the country.

DVDs and pirated copies of “Spirited Away” had spread in China since it was released in Japan in 2001.

Xinjingbao explained why the 18-year-old film, which has already been viewed widely among Chinese, proved such a success in its official screening.

“Although numerous Chinese people already know the content of the film, many of them still seek the sensation of watching it on the big screen,” the newspaper wrote.

It also noted that the film attracts people from across generations.

“Other theater-goers watched ‘Spirited Away’ in their childhoods and are eager to watch the anime one more time now that they have gained many life experiences,” according to the newspaper.

Two promotional posters for the film amplified the buzz in China before its release.

One person online said the posters “perfectly express the film’s world.”

Another Internet user posted, “Just seeing the posters brought tears to my eyes.”

The posters were created by Huang Hai, a famed designer. He also produced the posters for the Chinese editions of “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Shoplifters,” directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, and "Green Book," winner of the Best Picture Oscar at the 2019 Academy Awards.

“The important theme of ‘Spirited Away’ is ‘growing up,’” Huang told Chinese media. “Many people can empathize with the heroine facing obstacles during her course of growing up or the anxiety of becoming an adult.

“I designed the posters with my wishes for you to move onward in life, facing forward without losing sight of who you are.”