Animated Movies Are Finally Getting The US Theatrical Releases They Deserve
Just a few decades ago, anime fans would turn to Japanese dictionaries to hand-translate the subtitles of their favorite anime movies, which they posted on password-protected IRCs and forums. pass. For the past two years, those same fans have seen marquee screens for “SPIRITED AWAY” and “YOUR NAME” hanging above their local brick-and-mortar movie theater. More and more US theaters are showing new and old anime movies, a welcome change for fans tired of hacking anime on their tiny MacBooks.
It’s true that in 1999, kids lined up in front of theaters for the 75-minute feature film Pokemon: The First Movie, a viewing experience that my mother cites as the hardest thing she has done as a parent after giving birth. Also, in 2002, Hayao Miyazaki Taken away as if by magic—with meager marketing—was shown to 151 theaters a year after its release in Japan, but grossed $5.5 million. Yet between major releases, animated films were a rare sight to see in an American theater, outside of film hubs like New York or Los Angeles. What we got was almost always accompanied by the words “limited release”.
Things are different now. After the huge success of animated films like your namewhich was worth $1.7 million its opening weekend in 2017, the floodgates were opened. In addition to the excitement of participating in a cultural moment – the release of a film to a wide audience – fans can experience many of these films the way they were meant to be seen: with booming sound, high-end video quality and cinematic atmosphere.
In 2019, we are spoiled. The Love Story of 2018 Miraia Critical Strikeis still playing in theaters across the country and, at its peak, played in 700 theaters. Dragon Ball Super: Broly won $7 million at the box office on January 16, the day it was released. Soon we receive I want to eat your pancreas, Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II, Okko’s Innand Anemone: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution. 2017 youflayer A silent voice will be screened again at the end of this month. We will have yet another year of Studio Ghibli Fest, a national event that will showcase nine Studio Ghibli films—Ponyo, pompoko, Princess Mononoke— to Central America and to major cities. (There was a SEO for The cat returns in The Idaho Statesman last year.)
Fathom is one of the main companies behind the flood of animated films in theaters and also runs the Studio Ghibli Fest. “We originally created several anime titles 6-7 years ago, but in recent years we’ve focused more on this type of programming,” said senior programming director Brian Deulley. “This focus stems primarily from the overwhelming fan response and demand, both domestically and internationally.” In 2017, The Ghibli Festival brought in $5.29 million at the box office. In 2018, that number grew to $6.78 million.
“For so long, many titles could only be viewed on imported VHS/DVD/Blu shelves, or on fan sites that people may or may not have stumbled upon,” Deulley continued. Theatrical releases allow audiences to “enjoy their favorite characters or relive classic scenes on the big screen in a crowded auditorium with fellow fans.”
It’s not just that there’s a greater thirst for animated films in theaters. US distributors are also getting the rights to more anime. In 2017, GKIDS boutique animation distributor resumed most of Studio Ghibli’s distribution rights from Disney (GKIDS had acquired the movie rights in 2011). Disney secured worldwide distribution rights in 1996, shortly before future classics were released Princess Mononoke and Taken away as if by magic. In 2017, GKIDS released half of Hayao Miyazaki’s film production on Blu-Ray.
GKIDS President David Jesteadt ran a video store before he started working in GKIDS’ distribution department. At the time, it was a very small distribution company for foreign animated films. Ten years later, at 33, Jesteadt helps direct some of the biggest theatrical and home theater anime releases the United States has ever seen. Studio Ghibli, he said, trusts GKIDS to get it right. “We’ve started releasing a lot of their movies theatrically that weren’t available before,” he explained over the phone. Studio Ghibli values theatrical experiences above all else, he said, because “that’s how movies were made to be seen.” If you have already seen Nausicaa in theaters, you know what the booming techno soundtrack does to its glider chase scenes.
Studio Ghibli also cares about the film’s format, according to Jesteadt. “They wanted [us] show 35mm films. It was very important for them to have the opportunity for the public to see these things like that on the big screen… This is a company that deeply respects the way things are done, not only commercial or financial. They want their films to be treated with care and thought and with a unique appreciation of what makes them special.
Jesteadt said that while he has “nothing but respect for Disney and what they’ve been able to do for the Ghibli catalog,” this is a major studio that produces several blockbuster movies every year. “They have a lot to do. Being able to build from scratch and say how are we going to get these movies seen in theaters has been an interesting challenge for us.
Ghibli isn’t the only name on the block at GKIDS, but it’s the most common. Another of the company’s special projects was the theatrical release of director Masaaki Yuasa’s films. Last year, Yuasa did both read on the wall and The night is short ride on girlof which I have the last described as “the best animated film in memory”. Both films had theatrical releases. It was a spectacular thing for fans of the lesser-known but beloved director, especially since his 2004 psychedelic masterpiece. Psychological game didn’t have a theatrical release in the US until last year (again, thanks to GKIDS). Unfortunately, many of these events only last a few days.
“It’s a golden age of anime in general and that includes access,” Jesteadt said. Its mission now, however, is to pave the way for theatrical hosting of smaller overseas projects. “A lot of times in the past there were gatekeepers – people like me or a distributor who has to bring one thing. It’s easier than ever to say, ‘We’re going to bring a lot of things and let the natural fans grow. This can be more difficult for smaller projects or films that don’t always have that high level of attention and exposure before release.We want to play a small role in helping organize and bring attention to titles which are not necessarily always the best known, but which have a quality common thread.