11:22am PT by Carolyn Giardina
GKIDS Acquires Studio Ghibli's Animated 'Only Yesterday'
Indie animation distributor GKIDS has entered into a distribution agreement with Japan's Studio Ghibli for the North American rights to Only Yesterday from studio co-founder and Academy Award nominee Isao Takahata (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya). GKIDS reported that the film has never before been released in North America, and a theatrical release is planned for early 2016, coinciding with the film’s 25th anniversary.
The film explores the drama and humor of everyday life through Taeko, an unmarried 27-year-old, who while traveling to visit her family recalls memories of her childhood. An English-language version is being produced by the studio's Geoffrey Wexler with a voice cast that includes Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels) and Alison Fernandez (Orange is the New Black).
Studio Ghibli was founded by Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki (who received an honorary Oscar at last year's Governors Awards, and also won a competitive Oscar for his feature Spirited Away). The studio has a history of working with GKIDS on distributing its highly-regarded library; this has included the North American releases of its Oscar nominated Princess Kaguya and the recently released When Marnie Was There (which Miyazki has said would be the studio's last feature).
"With this 25th anniversary release [of Only Yesterday], a broad new audience will now be able to discover what passionate supporters have known for years," said David Jesteadt, GKIDS’ senior vp distribution. "Only Yesterday is a groundbreaking classic, and further demonstration of Isao Takahata’s incredible legacy as a filmmaker."
The deal, negotiated by GKIDS' Eric Beckman and Studio Ghibl's Wexler, also gives GKIDS the non-theatrical, home video and television rights in North America.
Since 2009, GKIDS has scored six best animated feature Oscar nominations including Princess Kaguya. Current and upcoming releases include 2014 Annecy winner Boy and the World from director Alê Abreu, and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, from director Roger Allers and producer Salma Hayek.