Max Extends Deal With GKIDS for Studio Ghibli Streaming Rights

Max March 12 announced a multiyear agreement with GKIDS to extend its exclusive U.S. film streaming rights for titles from Studio Ghibli, Japan’s Oscar-winning animation house.

The streamer has been the U.S. home to the Studio Ghibli catalog since 2020, marking the first time the films were available to stream.

As part of the deal, Max will be the future home of the Oscar-winning and Golden Globe-winning film The Boy and the Heron, with an announcement of the Max streaming premiere date to be made later this year. The hand-drawn, original story is Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film in 10 years, written and directed by the Academy Award-winning director. Produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, the film features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi.

“Our subscribers are always looking for unique stories, and we are happy to continue to offer these award-winning, critically acclaimed films and to add The Boy and the Heron to our deep and rich Max content offering,” Elizabeth Bannan Atcheson, VP of content acquisitions for Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement.

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The Studio Ghibli catalog includes classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo and films that have won many international awards, including Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature for 2001’s Spirited Away and 2023’s The Boy and the Heron. The studio has racked up additional Oscar nominations for Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There.

Films available to stream as part of the new deal include:

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Castle in the Sky (1986)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Only Yesterday (1991)
Porco Rosso (1992)
Ocean Waves (1993)
Pom Poko (1994)
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Princess Mononoke (1997)
My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
Spirited Away (2001)
The Cat Returns (2002)
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Tales from Earthsea (2006)
Ponyo (2008)
The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
The Wind Rises (2013)
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)
When Marnie Was There (2014)
Earwig and the Witch (2020)
The Boy and the Heron (2023) — coming soon

Anime Film ‘Blue Giant’ Due on Blu-ray Disc, Digital Platforms on April 30

The acclaimed anime film Blue Giant will be released April 30 on Blu-ray Disc and all major digital platforms from GKIDS, with distribution from Shout! Studios.

Bonus features include a Q&A with Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara, as well as trailers and teasers. Advance orders for Blue Giant may be made now from GKIDS.com, ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com, and Apple.

Blue Giant, directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa (Mob Psycho 100, Death Parade), is based on the award-winning manga by Shinichi Ishizuka. The film features a jazz soundtrack composed by Uehara and performances by drummer Shun Ishikawa, of Millennium Parade, and saxophonist Tomoaki Baba.

In the film, Dai Miyamoto’s life changes when he discovers jazz. He picks up a tenor saxophone and practices every day. After leaving his hometown Sendai, he pursues a music career in Tokyo with help from his friend Shunji. One day, Dai plays passionately from the heart and convinces talented pianist Yukinori to start a band together. Along with Shunji, a beginner drummer, they form the three-piece band JASS. With each live performance, they get closer and closer to their dream of playing at So Blue, the most famous jazz club in Japan, in hopes of forever changing the world of jazz.

‘The Boy and the Heron’ Tops Slow Dec. 10 Weekend Box Office

With no major theatrical new releases, GKIDS’s anime feature film The Boy and the Heron topped the slow weekend box office with an estimated $12.3 million in North American debut ticket sales through Dec. 10.

The title from Japanese animator, filmmaker, and manga artist Hayao Miyazaki has now sold about $100 million in global ticket sales since its July 14 theatrical debut in Japan.

At No. 2 for the weekend, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes took in an estimated $9.4 million in North America revenue, lifting the film’s four-weekend domestic tally to $135.66 million. Overseas, the movie took in another $11 million this weekend, upping the international box office total to $143.3 million for a global tally of $278.96 million.

Separately, director John Woo’s Silent Night took in another $1.72 million this weekend, lifting the holiday-themed horror film’s two-weekend total to approximately $5.84 million.
 
At No. 3, Toho Entertainment’s Godzilla Minus One added $8.3 million in second-weekend ticket sales to up its total past $25.3 million. That was followed by Universal Pictures’ Trolls Band Together, which upped its four-weekend tally past $83 million following an additional $6.2 million in ticket sales.
 
 
Disney’s animated musical Wish and the previous weekend’s chart topper, AMC Theatres’ music documentary Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, entered Sunday in a virtual tie at more than $5 million in ticket sales — a near 75% drop in revenue for Beyoncé’s concert film.
 

Elsewhere, Paramount Pictures/Apple Studios’ Killers of the Flower Moon added $400,000 in revenue across in 44 markets on the film’s eighth international weekend. The foreign box office now stands at $83.1 million, upping the global tally past $155 million, including $71.9 million in North America. 

Finally, animated family title Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie grossed $300,000, off 45% from the previous weekend, across 39 markets. The international tally now stands at $130.4 million, including $65 million across North American screens.

Stage Adaptation of Anime Classic ‘Spirited Away’ Coming to Digital, Blu-ray Disc Nov. 14

Shout! Studios and GKIDS are bringing the stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning animated feature Spirited Away to home audiences.

Spirited Away: Live on Stage, filmed during the hit production’s 2022 run at the historic Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, will be released for digital rental and purchase and on Blu-ray Disc Nov. 14.

The stage adaptation from Tony Award winner John Caird is being released as two separate filmed performances of the production, starring renowned Japanese actresses Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, double-cast as the lead heroine Chihiro. Character actor Mari Natsuki, who voiced the sorceress Yubaba and her twin sister Zeniba in the original motion picture, returns to her original role accompanied by voice actor Romi Park double cast as the characters. They are accompanied by a star-studded cast of Japan’s finest actors.

The Spirited Away: Live on Stage home entertainment release follows the North American debut earlier this spring with the successful theatrical run at the 2023 Ghibli Fest.

Final Film of ‘Evangelion’ Anime Franchise Slated for October Home Release

Shout! Studios and GKIDS will release the anime movie Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time through digital retailers Oct. 3, and on Blu-ray and 4K Disc Oct. 17.

The fourth installment of the theatrical “Rebuild” edition of popular “Evangelion” franchise was a theatrical hit in Japan in 2021.

Created by Hideaki Anno, the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” franchise is considered one of the most influential animated sagas of all time. Since the 1995 premiere of the original television series, the story of teenager Shinji Ikari has remained one of the most iconic titles in animation history, and a global pop culture phenomenon. Following the TV show, the project received new life as the “Evangelion” movie series. The theatrical film series began with 2007’s Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone and continued with 2009’s Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance and 2012’s Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo.

In Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time (alternately known as Evangelion: 3.0+1.01), Misato and her anti-NERV group Wille arrive at Paris, a city now red from core-ization. Crew from the flagship Wunder land on a containment tower. They only have 720 seconds to restore the city. When a horde of NERV Evas appear, Mari’s improved Eva Unit 8 must intercept. Meanwhile, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei (Provisional Name) wander about Japan.

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The film will be available to own in a standard Blu-ray configuration as well as a 4K Ultra HD collector’s edition set. The digital and disc editions will include both the original Japanese language version and an English dub.

The 4K UHD Collector’s Edition will be a three-disc set that includes one 4K UHD disc featuring the film, a Blu-ray of the feature film, and a disc of brand-new bonus features encased in a rigid box case. Featuring both the original Japanese language version and an English dub, the set includes a 28-page book, art cards, and a poster, as well as bonus features including character promotion reels, stage greetings, trailers and more.

The standard Blu-ray will be a two-disc set that includes both the film and the bonus disc.

In addition, GKIDS will be bringing the feature back to cinemas in select markets this fall.

 

Shout! Factory, GKIDS Set Sept. 26 Disc, Digital Release Date for ‘Lonely Castle in the Mirror’

Shout! Factory has set a Sept. 26 Blu-ray Disc and digital release date for the GKIDS anime adventure fantasy Lonely Castle in the Mirror, directed by Keiichi Hara (Miss Hokusai, ColorfulThe Wonderland) and based on the bestselling novel by Mizuki Tsujimura.

Bonus features include trailers and an art gallery of the film’s visuals. Lonely Castle in the Mirror is now available for pre-order from GKIDS and Shout! Factory, as well as Amazon.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a drama about the pains of growing up and the unlikely bonds that can bring people together. Shy outcast Kokoro has been avoiding school for weeks when she discovers a portal in her bedroom mirror. She reaches through and finds herself transported to an enchanted castle where she is joined by six other students. When a girl in a wolf mask explains that they have been invited to play a game, the teens must work together to uncover the mysterious connection that unites them. However, anyone who breaks the rules will be eaten by a wolf.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror was the first Japanese animated feature to be selected for the Rotterdam International Film Festival, where it had its international premiere, and was nominated for Animation of the Year at the 2023 Japan Academy Film Prize.

Cinedigm Acquires Streaming Rights to ’90s Anime Series ‘NADIA: The Secret of Blue Water’

Cinedigm April 14 announced that it acquired rights to the 1990s anime series “NADIA: The Secret of Blue Water” from animation producer/distributor GKIDS for its branded anime streaming service RetroCrush.

The newly remastered series will stream on the channel beginning this June.

Released in the early ’90s, the 39-episode series gained a cult following for its unique characters and striking animation. “Nadia” pushed the boundaries of genre storytelling and helped elevate the careers of up-and-coming artists, including anime illustrator Hideaki Anno (“Neon Genesis Evangelion”).

In the vein of Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the series is set in the late 19th century, as technological discoveries begin reshaping how people live. As crowds flock to Paris to witness mechanical marvels like the Eiffel Tower, a young inventor meets a mysterious woman who possesses a priceless treasure. But unbeknownst to either, a sinister force seeks to acquire the crystal at any cost. The young pair must brave dangerous waters, above the sea and below, if they have any hope of saving the world.

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“[The] series was ahead of its time,” David Chu, EVP & GM of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

The deal was negotiated by Mary Gibson, acquisitions director, on behalf of Cinedigm and Alison Kozberg, GKIDS director of home entertainment, on behalf of the series.

RetroCrush includes more than 100 series and 40 feature films from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Content includes “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” “Great Teacher Onizuka,” “Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie,” “Megazone 23” and “Cyber City Oedo 808.”

Shout! Factory, GKIDS Set Home Release Dates for Top Chinese Film ‘New Gods: Yang Jian’

GKIDS and Shout! Factory have announced home release dates for New Gods: Yang Jian, an animated epic centered on ancient lore and Chinese mythology.

The film makes its home entertainment debut on digital platforms April 11 and two weeks later (on April 25) becomes available in a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.

Directed by Zhao Ji (White Snake), New Gods: Yang Jian is the second installment in the studio’s “New Gods” series, following the 2021 feature New Gods: Nezha Reborn. The film picks up 13 years later, as the once-powerful hero known as Erlang Shen now scrapes by as a poor bounty hunter. When a mysterious woman hires him, Yang Jian soon finds himself chasing down a familiar figure. He must stop Chenxiang, his long-lost nephew, who searches for a powerful but dangerous artifact.

The film was released theatrically in the United States earlier this month. In China, New Gods: Yang Jian was the No. 1 film on opening weekend, earning $19.8 million and beating Minions: The Rise of Gru, which opened in third place. Yang Jian wound up as the year’s No. 1 movie in China, with a total box office gross of more than $77 million.

Bonus features on the home release include an interview with director Zhao Ji, a look at the animation process, original cast interviews, arts and culture spotlights, and an art gallery.

Spanish Adult Animated Feature ‘Unicorn Wars’ Available on Demand March 10

GKIDS will release Unicorn Wars, a Spanish, genre-bending animated feature for adults from Goya and director Alberto Vásquez (Birdboy: The Forgotten Children), for limited theatrical release and on demand March 10.

The technicolor horror-comedy was featured in competition at the 2022 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and was an official selection at BFI London, Animation Is Film, and Fantastic Fest.

The film uses an outrageous candy-colored premise to explore religious zealotry, the tortured legacies of military fascism and the depths of the soul. In the plot, for ages, teddy bears have been locked in an ancestral war against their sworn enemy the unicorns with the promise that victory will complete the prophecy and usher in a new era. Aggressive, confident teddy bear Bluet and his sensitive, withdrawn brother Tubby could not be more different. As the rigors and humiliation of teddy bear bootcamp turn to the psychedelic horrors of a combat tour in the Magic Forest, their complicated history and increasingly strained relationship will come to determine the fate of the entire war.

Unicorn Wars marks the next collaboration between GKIDS and Alberto Vázquez, following GKIDS’ local distribution of the Goya Award-winning feature Birdboy: The Forgotten Children and the short film “Decorado.” 

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GKIDS, Shout! Factory Set Digital, Disc Release Dates for ‘Goodbye, Don Glees!’

GKIDS and Shout! Factory have announced Goodbye, Don Glees!, a coming-of-age anime film from writer and director Atsuko Ishizuka (No Game, No Life, Prince Stride: Alternative), will be available for digital download Dec. 13. A Blu-ray + DVD combo release follows on Dec. 27.

The first original feature from Ishizuka, Goodbye, Don Glees! follows the story of teen misfits Roma, Toto and Drop, who call themselves the “Don Glees,” an informal name for their backyard adventure. One day, when the trio gets blamed for a nearby forest fire, they set off into the woods to prove their innocence. As disaster strikes, tensions flare between the friends as they realize that growing up has taken them on wildly different paths in life.

The film screened at various major film festivals, including the Annecy International Film Festival, the Tokyo International Film Festival, and Fantasia Fest.

Bonus features include an interview with director Ishizuka, as well as trailers for the film.