Elysian Film Group, Anonymous Content and Bleecker Street have jointly acquired the U.K. rights to “The Boy and the Heron,” the first film from legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki in a decade. Elysian Film Group will release the film in U.K. cinemas later this year. “The Boy and the Heron” premiered to strong reviews at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it was the opening night attraction.
The Studio Ghibli production already opened in Japan over the summer, where it surpassed the first four-day box office of “Spirited Away,” the 2001 film that is considered to be one of Miyazaki’s masterpieces. The film will have its U.K. Premiere as a special presentation at the London Film Festival next month.
“The Boy and the Heron” is a hand-drawn, original story written and directed by the Oscar-winning director. Set against the backdrop of World War II, if follows an adolescent boy who is grieving the death of his mother and trying to adapt to life with his father’s new wife, who also happens to be his aunt. He finds himself at the family home — a place shrouded with deep secrets — and embarks on a journey through a mystical world. Produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, the film features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi.
The 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 Goodfellas on behalf of the filmmakers.
The companies jointly commented: “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.”
The deal marks the first time Bleecker Street has directly invested in U.K. distribution and marks their first-ever animated film. Earlier at this year’s TIFF, Bleecker Street acquired the U.S. rights to British comedy “Fackham Hall,” starring Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Thomasin McKenzie, Katherine Waterston, and Emma Laird, which will begin principal photography in early 2024, and is their second collaboration in this market with Elysian Film Group, who will produce, and Anonymous Content. Bleecker’s upcoming release slate features Meg Ryan’s romantic comedy “What Happens Later,” starring Ryan alongside David Duchovny, as well as Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s “Waitress: The Musical.”