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Film News Roundup: Gkids Acquires Three Masaaki Yuasa Films

In today’s film news roundup, Gkids buys three Masaaki Yuasa films, Gravitas acquires “5 Doctors,” and Straight Up Films adds to its executive film team.

ACQUISITIONS

Gkids has acquired the North American distribution rights for three animated films from director Masaaki Yuasa — 2004’s “Mind Game” and 2017’s “Lu Over the Wall” and “The Night is Short, Walk on Girl.”

Gkids will release the films theatrically in their original Japanese language and will also create a new English dubbed version for “Lu Over the Wall,” which is slated to premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.

“Mind Game” won the grand prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival. It’s available digitally on Ellation’s VRV Select platform with theatrical release beginning in February, followed by release on other formats.

“Lu Over the Wall” is a classic fairy tale about a little mermaid who comes ashore to join a middle-school rock band and propel them to fame. It won the grand prize at the Annecy International Animation Festival.

“Night is Short, Walk on Girl” takes place over the course of one strange and alcohol-drenched night, as a young woman known only as the Girl With Black Hair drinks her way through Kyoto. It was winner of the grand prize at Ottawa Animation Festival.

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Dial Tone Pictures has signed a global distribution deal with Gravitas Ventures to bring the dramedy “5 Doctors” to VOD and digital platforms beginning on Feb. 27, Variety has learned exclusively.

“5 Doctors” is directed by Matt Porter and Max Azulay from a script by Porter, Phil Primason, and Azulay. Joe Greco produced, while Primason, Aaron Kogan, Tim Meyer, and D’vera Topol executive produced.

“5 Doctors” follows Spencer, a struggling comedian played by Azulay. Convinced that he’s dying from a bizarre array of symptoms, Spencer returns home to visit his five childhood doctors in a single day, all while desperately trying to avoid the friends and family that he left behind.

The film also stars Porter, Emily Walton, Bobby Moynihan, Eddie Pepitone, Peter Friedman, Adam Dannheisser, Jodi Long, Jeremy Shamos, Jordan Baker, and Annabelle Zasowski.

EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS

Straight Up Films has hired Rhian Williams and Jo Podmore as co-chief operating officers, joining an already predominately female executive team.

They will work closely with CEOs Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen, as well as Sandra Condito, president of production and development.

Williams and Podmore have had a long-standing presence in London and Shanghai and are known for their advisory work and representation of high-net worth individuals in the media industry. They worked on “You’re Not You” with Hilary Swank, “Dark Places” with Charlize Theron, and “Wild Oats” with Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange.

In their new positions, they will focus on developing the commercial arm of the business, which will involve running the international content fund and overseeing the company’s new film and television productions in Europe and Asia.

Straight Up Films was founded in 2008 by Cohen and Polvino. Credits include 2014’s “Transcendence.” Upcoming projects include the psychological thriller “Alex,” based on the novel by French author Pierre LeMaitre, and the television limited series “Hedy Lamarr,” which follows the story of the Hollywood starlet and stars Diane Kruger.

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