From Up on Poppy Hill Opens in Minneapolis

Update 4/1/13: In addition to the English-language version, a Japanese-language soundtrack should be included when Poppy Hill moves to the Lagoon Edina Theater on April 5.  Thanks to GKids for sharing the news.

Goro Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli movie, From Up on Poppy Hill, arrives today at the Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis.  It's working its way through the indie circuit, courtesy of GKids, the fine folks responsible for the Studio Ghibli Film Festival last year.  It is also playing in select cities in the coming weeks.  I honestly don't know if or when the Blu-Ray (already available in Japan) will ever see an American release, so this is your only chance to see this movie in 2013.

As far as box office performance, it's probably best not to think about it too much.  This movie will barely make a million or two during its (very limited) theatrical run in the US, far less than the average Hollywood studio cartoon will make on any given showing.  It's fairly clear that our best chance for seeing Studio Ghibli reach mainstream success in our country has passed.  Ponyo was about as good as it gets, and it's all niche from there.

Don't let that discourage you.  Millions of people mindlessly slog through another season of American Idol, while ignoring the Miles Davis records on your shelf.  The fun stuff, the truly interesting stuff, that's hidden away, harder to reach, off the beaten path.  It has always been thus.  And part of the joy of discovery lies in seeking out these hidden gems.

If you're able to see Poppy Hill, I strongly encourage you to do so.  I'm looking forward to seeing how far Goro-san has progressed from Earthsea, if he is closer to finding his own unique voice, for seeing the latest chapter in the Miyazaki Family Saga.  Personally, my favorite Ghibli movies are Omohide Poro Poro and Mimi wo Sumaseba, so I have high expectations for this film.  I still find it astonishing that naturalist, neo-realist animation does not exist in the West.  Why is that, I wonder?  And what would have to happen to change that equation?  Right now, I'm pretty much out of answers.

I always tell people to run to the theaters anytime a Ghibli movie plays there.  We won't know when, or if, we'll have another chance.  Hayao Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu and Isao Takahata's Kaguya Hime open in Japan this year, but there's little to no chance that Disney will pick up either title for distribution.  These aren't Disney cartoons, and there are no toys to sell.  So don't take anything for granted, kids.  Get to the theaters and see this movie while ya still can.  Mozel tov!


Christopher Sobieniak said...

I'll probably miss out since because Toledo's interest in indie flicks is terribly low.

Ambi Valent said...

It was no better in Germany for Arrietty... although it was very popular in Japan and ran well in France, the only place in the north of Germany that had the movie was in Hamburg... I think the southern part of Germany was a little better off, but still most cinemas didn't have it.

Arrietty was just on TV today... not in the afternoon or evening, but on 9:10 am... I wonder if they'll use low ratings to decide not to show it again... or not even to try to get Poppy Hill, which still hasn't arrived in Germany.

Do you know whether Yonebayashi is working on a project right now? I haven't read anything new about him lately.

As for Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu, is it true it will be a horror movie (in the sense that Grave of the Fireflies is one)? The wind rises, and all goodness is in jeopardy?

Natalie Belton said...

Great to see you posting again! Up On Poppy hits my local art house theatre April 5th and I shall go to show my support.

As for neo-realist animation in the west, I can't really think of any American examples, but the French films Persepolis and The Illusionist are bit reminiscent of the style. (If you haven't seen either of these films, I strongly encourage you to do so!)

Lorikeet said...

I saw it yesterday; I don't think it's nearly as good as Only Yesterday or Whisper of the Heart, but it's miles better than Tales From Earthsea.

As for its box office performance, it's already shown some respectable numbers. The reason GKids has been able to sell the film to so many venues across North America is because the film yielded a very high per-screen average when it debuted in New York. As indie-distributed films go, Poppy Hill is doing alright for itself so far.

Blogan said...

I was extremely pleased to learn that this film will be coming to my town in late April. I've never had the chance to see a Ghibli film on the big screen, so you better believe I'm jumping at the chance. I'm also optimistic that Goro has grown as a director since Earthsea, but I'll have to wait until I see the film before I decide for myself.

Gnickerson said...

Technically "The Secret World of Arrietty" was as good as it gets since it grossed nearly $20 million, about $4 million more then Ponyo. Although Ponyo had far more in terms of product tie ins.

Michael said...

I wouldn't count out a Blu-ray release of From Up on Poppy Hill in North America just yet. GKIDS has released films on the format in the past (The Secret of Kells) and when I emailed them earlier this year they said that a Blu-ray release was planned. Unless the film completely under-performs at the box-office (by independent standards), I don't see why they would cancel these plans.

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