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GKIDS is an American film distributor based in New York with, according to the Los Angeles Times, a focus on "sophisticated, indie" animation.[1] GKIDS uses a bespoke distribution method to release critically acclaimed,[2] hand-drawn,[3] international[1] films—such as the works of renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki[4]—to North American audiences. Although the name is said to be an acronym for "Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate,"[5] the company is commonly referred to only as GKIDS (stylized in all-caps), and is legally registered as such in New York state.[6]

GKIDS
Privately Held
IndustryFilm Distribution
Animation
Founded2008; 11 years ago (2008)
FounderEric Beckman
Headquarters,
ProductsMotion pictures
WebsiteGKIDS Films

The company has gained prominence since 2010 by garnering a series of Academy Award nominations for little-known "underdog" films,[7] beating out big-budget American films such as The Lego Movie, The Peanuts Movie and Finding Dory.[8]

HistoryEdit

GKIDS was founded in 2008 by Eric Beckman, who previously co-founded and ran the New York International Children's Film Festival with his partner, Emily Shapiro.[9][10] Their first general release was Azur & Asmar, a French film dubbed in English for British and Irish audiences.

The company attained national recognition with the 2010 release of The Secret of Kells,[11] the debut film by Irish animator Tomm Moore, which received a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards.[12] This surprise nomination was followed by two more Best Animated Feature nominations at the 84th Academy Awards, Spanish-language Chico and Rita and French-language A Cat in Paris.[13] Both nominations were considered highly surprising by film insiders,[14][15] beating out such notables as The Adventures of Tintin and Cars 2—the first eligible Pixar film not to be nominated since the category's founding.[16] This marked the first time that an independent distributor had two films in the Best Animated Feature category in the same year,[17] a decision which Puss in Boots director Chris Miller said indicated the Academy's "respect for diversity."[18]

In September 2011, GKIDS announced the acquisition of the North American theatrical distribution rights to the Studio Ghibli library, that were previously held by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.[19] Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, however, retained the home media distribution rights.[19] GKIDS has since also managed the North American distribution of three new Studio Ghibli films, From Up on Poppy Hill in 2013, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya in 2014, and When Marnie Was There in 2015 as well as the first-time North American releases of Only Yesterday and Ocean Waves in 2016.[20][21][22] On July 17, 2017, it was announced that the North American home media rights to the Ghibli library (with the exception of Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises) had transitioned from Disney to GKIDS, with the distributor announcing plans to begin re-issuing the films beginning in October.[23] Unlike most of GKIDS' material on home media, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment or Cinedigm isn't distributing the Ghibli re-releases, Shout! Factory is instead handling the distribution. Since then, Shout! Factory have gone on to distribute other GKIDS releases alongside Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

GKIDS received three more Oscar nominations in 2014 and 2015 with Ernest & Celestine,[24] Song of the Sea, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.[25] These latter two films beat out The Lego Movie, widely considered to be the frontrunner for the award.[26][27][28] GKIDS has since released four new films in 2015, of which When Marnie Was There and Boy and the World were in the running for Best Animated Feature at the 88th Academy Awards but lost out to Pixar's Inside Out.[29][failed verification] My Life as a Zucchini was nominated for the same award in 2016.[30]

Founder Eric Beckman received the Mifa & Variety Animation Personality of the Year Award at Annecy in June 2017.[31]

In January 2018, The Breadwinner became the tenth GKIDS film to receive an Oscar nomination.[32] In January 2019, Mirai became their eleventh.[33]

Style and receptionEdit

 
Sita Sings the Blues was one of the best-reviewed films of 2009.

While films distributed by GKIDS span a wide range of nationalities, languages, and animation styles, the distributor focuses almost exclusively on "handmade, mostly auteur-driven animated movies" created by individual animators working with small teams.[34][failed verification] Founder Eric Beckman has described the animated market in the U.S. as "dominated by expensive-to-produce, expensive-to-distribute movies".[34] To this end, the company relies heavily on critical reception and accolades to attract audiences, rather than big-budget marketing campaigns. Beckman has said of the Academy Awards, "The Oscars are the great equalizer. You don't have to spend millions to reach millions, you look to a smaller group of people who know and like film … But you've got to start with something super."[35]

As a result of this focus on artful, stylistically distinct animation, GKIDS has been hailed by critics and animation insiders as a welcome complement to the standard Hollywood fare, being referred to variously as "the saints of independent animation,"[36] "one of the most notable independent distribution companies in the US,"[37] and "the country's best distributor [for] traditional hand-drawn animation."[3] Industry magazine Film Journal International said of the company's track record, "The reason GKIDS films keep getting nominated despite the company's low (relative to Disney, DreamWorks, et al.) profile is that, simply put, their films tend to be really good."[38]

Nine feature films released by GKIDS have a perfect, 100% "Fresh" rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes: Sita Sings the Blues,[39] Only Yesterday,[40] Approved for Adoption,[41] The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,[42]Mind Game,[43]This Magnificent Cake!,[44]Okko's Inn,[45]Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles,[46] and Weathering with You.[47] Sita Sings the Blues, combining stylistic elements of Rajput painting, shadow puppetry, vector graphic animation, and Squigglevision, was selected by Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Roger Ebert for his annual Ebertfest, calling it "one of the year's best films".

Not all have been broadly successful with critics, though: Mia and the Migoo (distributed in theaters by GKIDS and on home video by Entertainment One),[48] Fireworks,[49] and MFKZ [50] are, as of August 2019, the only three with "Rotten" ratings.

Films distributed by GKIDSEdit

US title Original title US release[clarification needed] Rotten Tomatoes score
Tahaan: A Boy With a Grenade[51] Tahaan September 5, 2008 No reviews
Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest Azur et Asmar October 17, 2008 (New York)
November 27, 2008
80%[52]
Sita Sings the Blues Sita Sings the Blues December 25, 2009 (New York)[53][54] 100%[39]
The Secret of Kells The Secret of Kells March 5, 2010 (New York)
March 19, 2010[55]
91%[56]
West of Pluto À l'ouest de Pluton March 26, 2010[57] No reviews
Summer Wars Samā Wōzu December 3, 2010[58] 77%[59]
Eleanor's Secret Kérity, la maison des contes January 21, 2011[53] No reviews
Mia and the Migoo Mia et le Migou March 25, 2011 (New York)
April 22, 2011[60]
38%[61]
The Studio Ghibli Collection
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
Kiki's Delivery Service
Only Yesterday
Porco Rosso
Ocean Waves
Pom Poko
Whisper of the Heart
Princess Mononoke
My Neighbors the Yamadas
Spirited Away
The Cat Returns
The Studio Ghibli Collection
Kaze no Tani no Naushika
Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta
Tonari no Totoro
Majo no Takkyūbin
Omohide Poroporo
Kurenai no Buta
Umi ga Kikoeru
Heisei Tanuki-Gassen Ponpoko
Mimi o Sumaseba
Mononoke-hime
Hōhokekyo: Tonari no Yamada-kun
Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Neko no Ongaeshi
December 16, 2011[62]

88%[63]
96%[64]
94%[65]
97%[66]
100%[67]
95%[68]
88%[69]
83%[70]
92%[71]
93%[72]
78%[73]
97%[74]
90%[75]

Chico & Rita Chico & Rita February 10, 2012 (New York)
February 17, 2012[76]
87%[77]
A Cat in Paris Une vie de chat June 1, 2012[78] 83%[79]
Tales of the Night Les Contes de la nuit September 26, 2012[80] 80%[81]
The Rabbi's Cat Le Chat du rabbin December 7, 2012 (New York)[82]
January 4, 2013[83]
94%[84]
Approved for Adoption Couleur de peau : miel February 8, 2013 (New York) 100%[85]
Wrinkles Arrugas February 8, 2013[86] 96%[87]
A Letter to Momo Momo e no Tegami February 10, 2013[88] 80%[89]
From Up on Poppy Hill Kokuriko-zaka kara March 15, 2013[90] 85%[91]
The Painting Le Tableau May 10, 2013[92] 82%[93]
Ernest & Celestine[94] Ernest et Célestine February 28, 2014 97%[95]
Patema Inverted Sakasama no Patema August 29, 2014 73%[96]
Nocturna Nocturna, la nuit magique September 4, 2014 No reviews
Welcome to The Space Show Uchū Show e Yōkoso October 14, 2014 No reviews
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya Kaguya-hime no Monogatari October 17, 2014 100%[97]
Song of the Sea Song of the Sea December 19, 2014 99%[98]
When Marnie Was There Omoide no Marnie May 22, 2015 91%[99]
Zarafa Zarafa July 3, 2015 75%[100]
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet August 7, 2015 66%[101]
Boy and the World O Menino e o Mundo December 11, 2015 93%[102]
Only Yesterday Omoide Poroporo January 1, 2016 100%[103]
April and the Extraordinary World[104] Avril et le Monde truqué April 1, 2016 96%[105]
Phantom Boy Phantom Boy July 15, 2016 88%[106]
Miss Hokusai Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai October 14, 2016 93%[107]
Ocean Waves Umi ga Kikoeru December 28, 2016 88%[108]
My Life as a Zucchini[109] Ma vie de Courgette February 24, 2017 98%[110]
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea[111] My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea April 14, 2017[112] 83%[113]
The Girl Without Hands La Jeune Fille sans mains July 21, 2017 95%[114]
Mune: Guardian of the Moon[115] Mune, le gardien de la lune August 12, 2017 80%[116]
Revolting Rhymes[117] Revolting Rhymes August 15, 2017 85%[118]
Napping Princess[119] Hirune-hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari September 8, 2017 63%[120]
The Breadwinner[121] The Breadwinner November 17, 2017 95%[122]
Howl's Moving Castle Hauru no Ugoku Shiro November 26, 2017 87%[123]
Mary and the Witch's Flower[124] Meari to Majo no Hana January 18, 2018[125] 89%[126]
Mind Game Maindo Gēmu February 16, 2018 100%[127]
Birdboy: The Forgotten Children[128] Psiconautas, los niños olvidados March 13, 2018 94%[129]
Ponyo Gake no Ue no Ponyo March 25, 2018 92%[130]
Lu over the Wall [131] Yoaketsugeru Rū no Uta May 11, 2018 76%[132]
Satellite Girl and Milk Cow [133] Uribyeol Ilho-wa Eollukso June 5, 2018[134] TBA
Fireworks [135] Uchiage Hanabi, Shita Kara Miru ka? Yoko Kara Miru ka? July 3, 2018 41%[136]
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl [137] Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome August 21, 2018 89%[138]
Perfect Blue[139] Pāfekuto Burū September 6, 2018 77%[140]
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…[141] Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes… September 23, 2018 96%[142]
MFKZ[143] Mutafukaz October 11, 2018 41%[144]
Mirai[145] Mirai no Mirai November 29, 2018 91%[146]
Modest Heroes[147] Chīsana Eiyū: Kani to Tamago to Tōmei Ningen January 7, 2019 86%[148]
This Magnificent Cake![149] Ce magnifique gâteau ! March 1, 2019[150] 100%[151]
Okko's Inn[152] Waka Okami wa Shōgakusei! April 22, 2019 100%[153]
Funan Funan June 7, 2019 90%[154]
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles[155] Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas August 16, 2019 100%[156]
The Case of Hana & Alice[157] Hana to Arisu Satsujin Jiken September 17, 2019 No reviews
Promare[158] Promare September 20, 2019 94%[159]
The Secret World of Arrietty Kari-gurashi no Arietti September 29, 2019 95%[160]
Genius Party[157] Jīniasu Pāti October 15, 2019 TBA
Genius Party Beyond[157] Jīniasu Pāti Biyondo October 15, 2019 TBA
Weathering with You[161] Tenki no Ko October 18, 2019 (award-qualifying run)
January 17, 2020
100%[162]
White Snake[163] Báishé: Yuánqǐ November 15, 2019 TBA
Children of the Sea[164] Kaijū no Kodomo 2019 TBA
Another Day of Life[165] Jeszcze dzień życia 2019 92%[166]
Ride Your Wave[167] Kimi to, Nami ni Noretara 2020 TBA
Marona's Fantastic Tale[168] L'Extraordinaire Voyage de Marona TBA TBA
Summer Days with Coo[157] Kappa no Kū to Natsuyasumi TBA TBA

Some Studio Ghibli films currently theatrically distributed by GKIDS were distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures for DVD and Blu-ray Disc. However, on July 17, 2017, GKIDS announced that they have acquired the home video rights for the entire Studio Ghibli catalogue except Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises.[169][170]

The company also tours selections of short and feature films screened at NYICFF across the country. In mid-2009, the live-action features Tahaan and West of Pluto (À l'ouest de Pluton) were licensed for potential general releases but plans for both were dropped by late 2011 in favour of a focus on animation.[171]

Studio Ghibli FestEdit

Since 2017, GKIDS has partnered with Fathom Events to host an annual event called Studio Ghibli Fest, which features limited theatrical screenings of select Studio Ghibli films in select AMC, CineMark, Regal, Cineplex Entertainment and other theaters.

Studio Ghibli Fest 2017 [172] Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 [173] Studio Ghibli Fest 2019 [174]
My Neighbor Totoro June 25, 26 Ponyo (10th Anniversary) March 25, 26, 28[175] Howl's Moving Castle (15th Anniversary) April 7, 8, 10[176]
Kiki's Delivery Service July 23, 24 The Cat Returns April 22, 23, 25[177] Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (35th Anniversary) May 20, 21
Castle in the Sky August 27, 28 Porco Rosso May 20, 21, 23[178] Whisper of the Heart July 1, 2
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind September 24, 25 Pom Poko June 17, 18, 20[179] Kiki's Delivery Service (30th Anniversary) July 28, 29, 31
Spirited Away October 29, 30[180] Princess Mononoke July 22, 23, 25[181] My Neighbor Totoro August 25, 26, 28
Howl's Moving Castle November 26, 27 Grave of the Fireflies August 12, 13, 15[182] The Secret World of Arrietty September 29, 30
My Neighbor Totoro September 30, October 1, 3[183] Spirited Away October 27, 28, 30
Spirited Away October 28, 29, 30[184] Princess Mononoke November 17, 18, 20
Castle in the Sky November 18, 19, 20[185] The Tale of The Princess Kaguya December 16, 18

TV shows distributed by GKIDSEdit

US title Original title US release
A Town Called Panic[186] Panique au village December 19, 2017
Ronja, The Robber's Daughter[187] Sanzoku no Musume Rōnya August 20, 2019

Awards and nominationsEdit

Academy AwardsEdit

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2009 The Secret of Kells Best Animated Feature Nominated [188]
2011 A Cat in Paris Nominated [189]
Chico and Rita Nominated
2013 Ernest & Celestine Nominated [190]
2014 Song of the Sea Nominated [191]
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Nominated
2015 Boy and the World Nominated [192]
When Marnie Was There Nominated
2016 My Life as a Zucchini Nominated [193]
2017 The Breadwinner Nominated [194]
Revolting Rhymes Best Animated Short Film Nominated [194]
2018 Mirai Best Animated Feature Nominated [195]

Annie AwardEdit

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2009 The Secret of Kells Best Animated Feature Nominated
2011 A Cat in Paris Nominated
Chico and Rita Nominated
Wrinkles Nominated
2012 The Rabbi's Cat Nominated
2013 Ernest & Celestine Nominated
A Letter to Momo Nominated
2014 Song of the Sea Nominated
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Nominated
2015 Boy and the World Best Animated Feature — Independent Won
The Prophet Nominated
When Marnie Was There Nominated
2016 Miss Hokusai Nominated
My Life as a Zucchini Nominated
2017 The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales... Nominated
The Breadwinner Won
Napping Princess Nominated
2018 MFKZ Nominated
Mirai Won
This Magnificent Cake! Nominated

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit