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Berlinale: Altitude Flies High For Japanese Animation ‘Witch’s Flower’

Variety logo Variety 2/2/2017 Patrick Frater
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Altitude Film Sales has picked up international rights to “Mary And The Witch’s Flower.” The picture is an animated feature that is the first film from Japan’s Studio Ponoc.

The film is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. He is one half of the Oscar-nominated duo with producer Yoshiaki Nishimura who previously made Studio Ghibli’s “When Marnie Was There” and recently co-founded Studio Ponoc.

The film was adapted by Yonebayashi and Riko Sakaguchi from the classic British children’s novel “The Littlest Broomstick” by Mary Stewart. Mixing “Harry Potter”-ish magic with the animation craft of Studio Ghibli, the story follows an innocent girl who stumbles into the magical world of a school for witches. Animators scouted locations in Shropshire, U.K., where Stewart set the book.

The film is now in post-production and will be available for release in 2017. Altitude Film Sales will unveil it to distributors at the Berlin International Film Festival’s European Film Market. Pre-sales have already been made to Altitude Film Entertainment for the U.K. and to Madman Entertainment for Australia and New Zealand.

“’Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ marks the beginning of a new, exciting age of animation and the start of and exciting new relationship between Altitude and Studio Ponoc,” said Will Clarke, founder and CEO of Altitude Film Entertainment in a statement.

Japanese animation has operated under a cloud since Studio Ghibli’s legendary co-founder Hayao Miyazaki announced in 2013 that he would retire. The recent success of both “Your Name” and “In This Corner of the World,” now suggest that other studios are capable of taking up his mantle.

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