Gkids has acquired North American rights to “The Deer King,” the latest feature film animated by the acclaimed studio Production I.G.

Directed by Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji and written by Taku Kishimoto, the movie premieres in competition at the Annecy Animation Festival this week and is slated for a theatrical release in early 2022.

The sweeping fantasy epic takes place in the years following a destructive war, with the Empire of Zol controlling the land and citizens of rival Aquafa — except for the Fire Horse Territory, where wild dogs, once ridden with the deadly Black Wolf Fever, roam free. When a pack of dogs rampage through a Zol-controlled mine, they bite enslaved former soldier Van and young girl Yuna, who become the only two to survive the attack. The pair seeks out a quiet life in the countryside, but when the disease runs rampant once again, they find themselves caught in a struggle much larger than any one nation.

“The Deer King” marks Ando’s directorial debut. Previously, he worked as a character designer, animation director and key animator with directors Satoshi Kon and Makoto Shinkai, as well as the famed Studio Ghibli, home to “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke” and more. Miyaji directed the 2009 series “Xam’d: Lost Memories” and worked on Studio Ghibli films including “My Neighbors the Yamadas.”

Gkids is a producer and distributor of award-winning feature animation for both adult and family audiences. Since 2010, the company has been nominated 12 times for best animated feature at the Academy Awards.

Watch a teaser for “The Deer King” below.