The release of Howl's Moving Castle, the new animation from Japanese hitmaker Hayao Miyazaki, will be moved back from July to November, sources at distributor Toho have revealed.

The film, which was to be the tentpole of Toho's summer slate, has fallen far behind its production schedule, necessitating the change of release dates. Toho has not yet announced a replacement - though the loss of what was expected to be the year's biggest earner will have a major impact on the distributor's summer plans.

Miyazaki's previous film, Spirited Away, smashed all Japanese box office records following its release in July 2001, finishing with $290m (Y30.8bn). Howl's, which Miyazaki has announced as his last feature film, is expected to equal or better that record.

Based on a novel by British author Diane Wynne Jones, Howl's has had a troubled production history, with the original director leaving the project in the summer of 2002 over creative differences with Miyazaki, who then took over the film himself. Production began in February last year.