’s no secret TV movies mostly suck. It’s also no secret, thanks to Xena production values and actors of the same caliber, TV movies involving fantasy always suck. In 2004, Sci Fi’s Earthsea proudly followed the tradition while trying to cash in on the Lord of the Rings craze.

At roughly the same time, Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli (Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away) was given a rights deal by Hallmark allowing them to produce an animated movie based on the same Ursula K. Le Guin source material. The rub? Sci Fi’s Earthsea would trump any Ghibli release in the U.S. until 2008.

And so, despite its relegation to the island of forgotten TV movies, the terrible legacy of “Earthsea: The Iceman Cometh” continues in 2006. Ghibli’s I-bet-my-ass-it’s-a-better-version, Tales from Earthsea, has already been released internationally and has pulled in over $67 million, but will be giving the sausage block to continent-bound U.S. residents until at least December 2008, when it will most likely be released by Buena Vista.

While that’s just the nature of wheeling and dealing in international film, it still seems a sad tragedy to have such a pile of crap hold back the U.S. release of a Ghibli film, as they usually turn out to be pretty special.