Mary and the Witch's Flower
Mary and the Witch's Flower (Japanese: メアリと魔女の花 Hepburn: Meari to Majo no Hana) is a 2017 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, produced by Studio Ponoc founder Yoshiaki Nishimura, animated by Studio Ponoc, and distributed by Toho in Japan. Based on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, this is Studio Ponoc's first feature film.
|Mary and the Witch's Flower|
Japanese theatrical release poster
|Hepburn||Meari to Majo no Hana|
|Directed by||Hiromasa Yonebayashi|
|Produced by||Yoshiaki Nishimura|
|Based on||The Little Broomstick|
by Mary Stewart
|Music by||Takatsugu Muramatsu|
|Box office||$41 million|
The film tells a story of a girl named Mary Smith who finds "fly-by-night", a mysterious flower that can give her the power to become a witch for only one night. The film was released in Japan on 8 July 2017. In the English-language version of the film, which was concurrently released with a subtitled version in the United States on 19 January 2018, the film features the voices of Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent.
Mary Smith moves into the northern English estate of her Great-Aunt Charlotte ahead of her parents. The bored, friendless girl tries to make herself useful through chores, but she repeatedly messes up. A local boy named Peter teases her for both her clumsiness and her wild red hair, which she hates.
Tib-cat and Gib-cat, Peter's cats, lead Mary to some mysterious glowing flowers. Zebedee, the estate gardener, identifies the flowers as "fly-by-night"; legend has it that witches covet the flower for its magical power. The next day, Gib-cat disappears and Mary follows Tib-cat to go look for her. Tib-cat leads her to a broomstick ensnared in a tree's roots. Mary frees the broomstick, but accidentally bursts a fly-by-night bulb on it. The bulb releases magical power in the form of a blue gelatinous substance, making the broomstick come to life and enabling Mary to ride it like a witch. The Little Broomstick whisks Mary and Tib-cat away to a complex of buildings hidden in the clouds, known as Endor College for witches.
The headmistress Madam Mumblechook assumes Mary is a new pupil with Tib-cat as her familiar, and takes her on a tour of the college. The tour reveals a campus with modern technology and conveniences, wherein witches take courses in the magic arts alongside fields of science such as chemistry. During the tour Madam introduces Mary to Doctor Dee, the college's renowned chemistry teacher. Mary finds herself able to perform advanced spells such as invisibility. Madam and Doctor Dee become convinced that Mary is a prodigy, because of her performance as well as her red hair, which turns out be a distinguishing feature among the best witches.
At Madam's office, Mary finds a spell book hidden behind a picture of fly-by-night. Mary admits that her magical ability comes from fly-by-night, and that Tib-cat actually belongs to Peter. Madam's attitude to Mary suddenly changes, but she still lets Mary return home. That night, Madam sends a message to Mary informing her that she's kidnapped Peter, and demands that Mary turn the fly-by-night bulbs to her. She and Tib-cat quickly fly back to Endor with the bulbs, but Madam and Doctor Dee imprison her instead in Doctor Dee's transformation spell lab. Mary finds Peter locked in the lab with her, and discovers that Doctor Dee has been experimenting on animals transforming them into fantastic creatures, including Gib-cat. In the spell book, Mary finds a spell that can undo all magic, and she uses it to undo all the transformations and to unlock the lab. They try to escape on the Little Broomstick, but Madam and Doctor Dee recapture Peter. Before she is carried off she vows to come back for him.
The Little Broomstick takes Mary to an isolated cottage. Within the cottage, Mary finds notes on transformation spells and a mirror that Great-Aunt Charlotte uses to contact her. Charlotte reveals that the cottage was her previous home, and she used to be a red haired pupil that excelled at Endor. But one day Charlotte found fly-by-night on the campus, leading Madam and Doctor Dee to obsessively pursue a project to use the flower to transform all humans into witches. When one of their experiments disastrously failed, Charlotte decided to escape Endor, taking the flower with her. Charlotte begs Mary to use her last bulbs to return home, but Mary vows to rescue Peter instead.
Mary returns to Endor and finds Madam and Doctor Dee trying to use the flower to transform Peter into a witch. But the experiment fails again, leaving Peter trapped within a gelatinous monster that rampages across the campus. Mary gets the spell book to Peter, and Peter uses it to undo the failed experiment as well as all of Madam and Doctor Dee's research. Mary and Peter finally return home, with Mary throwing away her last bulb and saying she does not need magic.
|Character||Japanese voice actor||English voice actor|
|Mary Smith||Hana Sugisaki||Ruby Barnhill|
|Madam Mumblechook||Yūki Amami||Kate Winslet|
|Doctor Dee||Fumiyo Kohinata||Jim Broadbent|
|Flanagan||Jiro Sato||Ewen Bremner|
|Peter||Ryunosuke Kamiki||Louis Ashbourne Serkis|
|Miss Banks||Eri Watanabe||Morwenna Banks|
|Zebedee||Kenichi Endō||Rasmus Hardiker|
|Light Fairy||?||Rebecca Louise Kidd|
Composer Muramatsu Takatsugu, who also scored Yonebayashi's last film When Marnie Was There, is in charge of the soundtrack for Mary and the Witch's Flower. Joshua Messick, one of the world's leading performers of the hammered dulcimer, participated in the score recording.
The theme song is "Rain", performed by Sekai no Owari.
Mary and the Witch's Flower was released theatrically in Japan on 8 July 2017 by distributor Toho, airing on 458 screens across Japan. Altitude Film Sales announced at the Berlin International Film Festival that it had acquired the worldwide rights to the film, and would release the film within the UK. Madman Entertainment announced that it had secured the rights to the film within Australia and New Zealand, and would premiere the film theatrically at Madman Anime Festival in Melbourne on 5 November 2017, with a wider release on 18 January 2018. GKIDS later announced that it would distribute the film within North America, with a one-week Oscar qualifying run on 1 December 2017, a limited opening on 18 January 2018, and a wider release on 19 January 2018. Altitude (the UK distributor) confirmed in early March 2018 that the film will have a special holding at selected Vue Cinemas on 10 April 2018 before its official UK-wide release on 4 May 2018.
The English dub of Mary and the Witch's Flower (starring Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent) was directed by Giles New and produced by Geoffrey Wexler. The English dub was recorded in July and August 2017 in London, and had its premiere in Los Angeles on 23 October 2017 at the GKIDS "Animation is Film" festival.
The movie was released on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital HD and 4K Ultra HD by Walt Disney Japan on 20 March 2018. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America by GKIDS' main home media distributor Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on 1 May 2018. Madman Entertainment released the film on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia and New Zealand on 4 July 2018. Altitude Film Distribution released the film on DVD, Blu-ray and a Blu-ray Steelbook in the United Kingdom on 10 September 2018.
Mary and the Witch's Flower grossed $2.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $38.6 million in other territories (including $27.6 million in Japan, $3.8 million in South Korea, $2.9 million in China and $2.6 million in France), for a worldwide total of $41 million.
In Japan, the film opened at second place, grossing ¥428 million ($3.9 million) during its opening weekend; this was an increase compared to Yonebayashi's previous film, When Marnie Was There (2014), which had grossed ¥378.86 million in its first weekend.
In the United States, the film held a special Thursday night preview on 18 January 2018 where it grossed $1.2 million from 573 theaters. It then stayed at 161 theaters over the weekend and grossed $329,097, bringing its four-day gross to $1.5 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 89% based on 87 reviews, and an average rating of 6.83/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Mary and the Witch's Flower honors its creator's Studio Ghibli roots with a gentle, beautifully animated story whose simplicity is rounded out by its entrancing visuals." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Sheila O'Malley of RogerEbert.com gave the film a rating of three stars out of four and stated that "the total lack of inner conflict in Mary might be why Mary and the Witch's Flower—as transportive and entertaining as it is—feels a little slight". However, Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times noted that although the film "isn't quite a masterpiece" and "the screenplay needs a polish", she concluded that the film is "a joy to look at: a visual adventure, and a continuation of a remarkable legacy".
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- Macdonald, Moira (18 January 2018). "'Mary and the Witch's Flower' tells gentle tale of girl at school for witches". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 19 January 2018.