Netflix is doubling down on its animation division with the streamer's latest acquisition of Studio Ponoc's upcoming film slate, including the highly-anticipated title The Imaginary.
This recent development comes on the heels of the 2024 Oscar nominations which included the Netflix film Nimona among the nominations. Previous animated Netflix films that received Academy Award nominations include The Sea Beast, Klaus, Over the Moon, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, and A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2023 Oscars.
Per the Netflix press release, this new partnership means that Netflix will become the exclusive home of upcoming Studio Ponoc films. The Tokyo-based studio was founded by renowned former Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, who has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature for the films The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There.
"Studio Ponoc is thrilled to bring our storytelling and innovative hand-drawn, hand-painted animated films to all audiences, and in particular to children and their families to enjoy together, around the world on Netflix. Netflix’s genuine commitment to supporting animation as a vital and valuable storytelling medium, and to growing high-quality and trailblazing animation, makes Netflix a truly excellent partner.- Studio Ponoc founder Yoshiaki Nishimura
Everything we know about The Imaginary
The first movie to be released as part of this new partnership is The Imaginary from director Yoshiyuki Momose. Featuring stunning hand-drawn animation and first-of-its-kind light and shadow techniques, The Imaginary is a touching story about humanity and creativity based on the award-winning novel by A.F. Harrold and illustrated by Emily Gravett.
Here is the official logline for the movie, shared by Netflix:
"Studio Ponoc's The Imaginary portrays the depths of humanity and creativity through the eyes of young Amanda and her imaginary companion, Rudger. Their fantastical adventures launched from her attic, lead them to discover a magical world of creatures and places never before seen until a sinister force threatens to destroy their imaginary world and the friendship within it. Directed by renowned animator Yoshiyuki Momose (Spirited Away), The Imaginary is an unforgettable adventure of love, loss, and the healing power of imagination."
The film will receive an exclusive theatrical run in Japan this year before getting its worldwide Netflix release afterward. No release date has been announced yet.
The Imaginary joins an ever-growing slate of exciting animated movies coming to Netflix soon, among them are Orion and the Dark, Thelma the Unicorn, In Your Dreams, That Christmas, The Twits, Ultraman: Rising, and Saving Bikini Bottom: The Sandy Cheeks Movie.