Former Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, founder of Studio Ponoc, decided to take us all by surprise in December. He announced that the young studio’s first feature-length would be titled Mary and the Witch‘s Flower, and helmed by When Marnie Was There director Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Today, staff announced that Hana Sugisaki, Marnie‘s voice of Sayaka, has been cast in the lead role as Mary.
In addition, a new trailer revealed the film’s Japanese opening date of July 8th. There is also an English-subtitled version which, like the teaser trailer from December, only lists a western release for 2017.
The film adapts British author Mary Stewart’s 1971 novel The Little Broomstick, and her fellow Brits can be certain of both a cinema and home release. UK-based company Altitude Film Sales announced that they have acquired the worldwide rights to the film. Madman Entertainment will handle distribution in Australia and New Zealand, and besides that no more territories have been confirmed. But we’re sure it’ll make its way to the US, Europe and elsewhere through Altitude before too long.
Amazon describe the plot of Stewart’s 1979 novel The Little Broomstick as follows:
It is Tib the black cat who leads Mary to the strange flower in the woods. When she discovers a little broomstick shortly afterwards, she is astonished to feel it jump in to action. Before she can gather her wits, it is whisking her over the treetops, above the clouds, and in to the grounds of Endor College, where: ‘All Examinations Coached for by A Competent Staff of Fully-Qualified Witches.’ Here she discovers evidence of a terrible experiment in transformation – deformed and mutant animals imprisoned in cages. In the moment after her broomstick takes off, she realises that Tib has been captured. Returning to the College the following day, she manages to free the animals, but not before the Head of the college, Miss Mumblechook, and her colleague, Doctor Dee, have seen her. Mary manages to flee …but the evil pair are in hot pursuit!
Yonebayashi leads a team consisting of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya scriptwriter Riko Sakaguchi, and composer Takagatsugu Muaramatsu of When Marnie Was There. Nishimura is listed as producer, and the staff page on the film’s website also notes that many former Ghibli staff have joined Ponoc for this film.
Nishimura founded Studio Ponoc on April 15th 2015, naming the studio after the Croatian word for “midnight”. To Nishimura, the word signifies “the beginning of a new day”. He left Ghibli at the end of 2014, and Yonebayashi left around the same time following the commercial failure of Marnie, his second directorial work for Ghibli after The Secret World of Arrietty.