The top grossing Japanese film of 2011 just found a distributor for U.S. theatrical release that will allow it to make a run at the Oscars. Here's the announcement:
New York, New York – June 6, 2012 – GKIDS, a distributor of award-winning animation for both adult and family audiences, announced that it has entered into a distribution agreement with Japan’s renowned Studio Ghibli for North American rights to the studio’s newest release, "From up on Poppy Hill" (Kokuriko-zaka kara). GKIDS is handling theatrical, home video, television and VOD rights and will qualify the film for the Academy Awards in the Best Animated Feature category. Theatrical release is planned for March 2013.
The deal follows on the September 2011 pact between GKIDS and Studio Ghibli for North American theatrical rights to 13 Studio Ghibli titles, including Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award winning "Spirited Away," "My Neighbor Totoro," "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind," "Castle in The Sky," "Kiki’s Delivery Service" and "Princess Mononoke." The Studio Ghibli retrospective has been touring major North American markets throughout 2012.
The pickup also comes on the heels of a spate of recently announced foreign acquisitions by GKIDS including "Zarafa" (Pathe, France), "The Rabbi’s Cat" (TF1, France), "A Letter to Momo" (Production I.G, Japan), "Le Tableau" (Rezo, France), "Wrinkles" (Six Sales, Spain) and "Tales of the Night" (Studio Canal, France).
"From up on Poppy Hill" was the top-grossing Japanese film of 2011, earning over $56 million at the Japanese box office and winning the Japan Academy Prize for Animation in 2012. The film was directed by Goro Miyazaki from a screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki, marking the first feature collaboration between father and son. An English-language version is being produced by Studio Ghibli with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall executive producing.
Set in Yokohama in 1963, the film centers on a high school couple’s innocent love and the secrets surrounding their births. The story takes place in a Japan that is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics – and the mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the new generation struggles to embrace modernity and throw off the shackles of a troubled past. The film's rich color palette and painterly detail capture the beauty of Yokohama's harbor and its lush surrounding hillsides, while the 1960’s pop soundtrack evokes nostalgia for an era of innocence and hope.
GKIDS president Eric Beckman, said. “We are thrilled and honored to be continuing our collaboration with Studio Ghibli for the upcoming "Poppy Hill" release. Working together to bring the Ghibli retrospective to North American theaters this year has been a wonderfully rewarding experience, both personally and professionally, and the response to the films has been nothing short of amazing. We are looking forward to extending the relationship and bringing yet another Ghibli gem to American audiences.”
About Studio Ghibli:
Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and is one of the most successful and well-respected animation studios in the world. Cultivating a creative force of talented directors, animators, and storytellers under the revered brilliance of Miyazaki and Takahata, Studio Ghibli’s films have been praised for their originality, dazzling animation, and epic storytelling. The films have become a beloved part of Japanese popular culture, and have garnered worldwide acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Hayao Miyazaki’s "Spirited Away" won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002 and in 2005 Miyazaki was named one of "the most influential people" by Time Magazine.
GKIDS is a distributor of award-winning filmed entertainment specializing in animation for both adult and family audiences. The company has scored three Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations in the past three years, with "The Secret of Kells" in 2010 and "A Cat in Paris" and "Chico & Rita" in 2012 – marking the first time an independent distributor has had two simultaneous nominations in the category. GKIDS also handles North American theatrical distribution for Oscar winner Hayao Miyazaki's famed Studio Ghibli library of films, one of the world’s most coveted animation collections with titles "Spirited Away," "My Neighbor Totoro," "Princess Mononoke" and others. GKIDS is longtime producer of the New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival, an Oscar-qualifying event and North America’s largest festival of film for children and teens. NYICFF jury members include Uma Thurman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Modine, Jeffrey Wright, Gus van Sant, Christine Vachon, John Canemaker, Evan Shapiro and James Schamus.