Elysian Film Group, Anonymous Content and Bleecker Street have jointly acquired the U.K. rights to The Boy and the Heron, the new animated feature from legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki.
Elysian Film Group will release the film in U.K. cinemas later this year.
Miyazaki’s first feature in a decade — since The Wind Rises in 2013 — The Boy and the Heron is already a hit in Japan, where its four-day opening box office topped that of the director’s 2001 Oscar-winning masterpiece Spirited Away. The Boy and the Heron had its international premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 7. The U.K. premiere will be at the London Film Festival next month, where The Boy and the Heron will screen as part of a special presentation.
The U.K. deal was negotiated by Nick Shumaker of Anonymous Content with Danny Perkins of Elysian Film Group and Kent Sanderson and Avy Eschenasy on behalf of Bleecker Street, and Vincent Maraval and Eva Diederix of sales group Goodfellas on behalf of the filmmakers.
The deal for The Boy and the Heron marks the first time Bleecker Street has directly invested in a film for U.K. distribution. It’s also the company’s first-ever acquisition of an animated feature. But The Boy and the Heron looks to be a safe bet. The hand-drawn animated film, which Miyazaki wrote and directed, wowed audiences and critics in Toronto, with The Hollywood Reporter calling the film “a late gift from a master” and a “fitting swan song” for the 82-year-old anime pioneer.
“Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are second-to-none as artists and innovators, and we could not be more proud to bring this beautiful, emotional film to audiences across the U.K.,” Elysian, Anonymous Content and Bleecker Street said in a joint statement.
This is Bleecker Street’s second major buy at TIFF, having picked up U.S. rights to British comedy Fackham Hall in a pre-sale deal last week with The Veterans. Bleecker’s upcoming slate includes the Meg Ryan-directed What Happens Later, a rom-com starring Ryan and David Duchovny, which they will bow Nov. 3; Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s Waitress: The Musical, which goes out on Dec. 7 with Fathom Events; Andrew Cumming’s Stone Age-set thriller The Origin, which will have its North American premiere at Fantastic Fest; and Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s space station-set thriller I.S.S., which premiered at the Tribeca film festival.