New York-based indie distributor GKIDS announced today that it has picked up Studio Ghibli’s award-winning 2011 movie From Up on Poppy Hill. Although the national release date in the U.S. will officially be March 2013, the studio is planning a special Academy Award consideration window for the film later this year. The pickup 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).
Last year, GKIDS has picked up the North American theatrical rights to 13 Studio Ghibli titles, including Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-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.
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.
“We are thrilled and honored to be continuing our collaboration with Studio Ghibli for the upcoming Poppy Hill release,” said GKIDS president Eric Beckman. “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.”