“The BFG’s” Ruby Barnhill and Oscar-winner Kate Winslet are set to lead the English language voice cast of Studio Ponoc’s animated film “Mary and the Witch’s Flower.” The film is the first feature from the Japanese animation company, which was founded in 2015 by former Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura.
Rising star, Barnhill saw her breakout role last year in Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” opposite Mark Rylance. The actress will take the title role in “Mary and the Witch’s Flower,” which follows the adventure of a young girl who discovers a mysterious flower that can give her the power to become a witch for one night and a school of magic that is not quite what it seems. It is based on a 1971 children’s novel, “The Little Broomstick,” by British author Mary Stewart.
Winslet will play Madam Mumblechook, the head of the school. Winslet’s Oscar-winning “Iris” co-star Jim Broadbent will also star as Madam Mumblechook’s colleague Doctor Dee. Ewen Bremner, Lynda Baron, Rasmus Hardiker, Teresa Gallagher, Morwenna Banks and young actor Louis Ashbourne Serkis, the son of Andy Serkis, will also provide their voices for the English-language cast, announced Thursday.
“With Ruby Barnhill on board as Mary and an Oscar-winning cast, ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ is set to charm and thrill family audiences around the world,” said Mike Runagall, managing director of Altitude Film Sales, which is handling worldwide sales, in a statement.
“Mary and the Witch’s Flower” reteams Nishimura with director Hiromasa ‘Maro’ Yonebayashi following their collaboration on Studio Ghibli’s Oscar-nominated “When Marnie Was There.” Nishimura was also Oscar-nominated for producing Studio Ghibli’s 2013 film “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”
It was adapted by Yonebayashi and Riko Sakaguchi. The English-language adaptation has been written by David and Lynda Freedman and produced by Geoffrey Wexler. Altitude’s Will Clarke served as executive producer on the English-language version.
Altitude announced earlier this month that North American rights had been sold to GKIDS, which distributed both of Nishimura’s Oscar-nominated titles. It is expected to release in the U.S. later this year.
Altitude Film Distribution will release the film in the U.K. and Ireland early in 2018. Madman Entertainment has rights Australia and New Zealand and will premiere the film at the Madman Anime Festival in Melbourne in early November.
The local language version of the film opened in Japan on July 8 through Toho and grossed JPY3 billion ($26.5 million).