My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

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My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
Equestria girls movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jayson Thiessen
Produced by Sarah Wall
Devon Cody
Written by Meghan McCarthy
Based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
developed for television 
by Lauren Faust
My Little Pony toyline by Bonnie Zacherle
Starring
Music by William Anderson (BGM)
Daniel Ingram (songs)
Edited by Mark Kuehnel
Production
company
Distributed by Screenvision
Shout Factory (DVD)
The Hub (TV premiere)
Release dates
  • June 16, 2013 (2013-06-16)
Running time 70 minutes[1]
Country United States
Canada
Language English
Box office $483,752 (Peru, Chile, Columbia and the UK)[2]

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is a 2013 Canadian-American animated musical comedy film and a spin-off of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic animated television series. Written by Meghan McCarthy and directed by Jayson Thiessen, the film premiered across limited screens in the United States and Canada on June 16, 2013, with worldwide home media release that began on August 6, 2013, followed by broadcast on the Hub Network, a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro, on September 1, 2013.

The film re-envisions the main characters of the series, normally ponies, as human characters in a high school setting. Set between the show's third and fourth seasons, the film's plot involves the pony Twilight Sparkle pursuing her stolen crown into an alternate world where she transforms into a human, teenage girl. While learning how to behave as a human, Twilight encounters human counterparts of her pony friends, who help her in her search for her crown. The film's release is tied in with the expansion of the My Little Pony toy line to include teenage human versions of the main characters, and also commemorates the 30th anniversary of the launch of the original My Little Pony toy line. In mid-February 2014, a sequel titled Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks was announced, with a planned release on September 27, 2014 at various theaters across the United States and Canada.

Plot[edit]

The newly crowned Princess Twilight Sparkle visits the Crystal Empire with her Ponyville friends for a royal summit with Princess Celestia, Luna, and Cadance. That night, Twilight's crown and Element of Magic is stolen by the unicorn Sunset Shimmer, a former student of Celestia. After a chase through the castle, Sunset drops the crown through a magic mirror and follows after it. The princesses inform the ponies that the mirror leads to a different world, and task Twilight with retrieving her crown on the other side before the portal closes again for thirty moons, or else the Elements of Harmony borne by her friends will no longer protect Equestria. Despite Celestia's insistence that Twilight must travel alone, Twilight's dragon assistant Spike anxiously jumps in after her as she enters the mirror.

In the other world, Twilight and Spike are transformed into a teenage human girl and dog, respectively. While struggling to adjust to her new body, Twilight investigates the nearby Canterlot High School where she encounters several human students and faculty members resembling ponies in Equestria, including her friends Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. She befriends the five girls, helping to bridge the animosity that Sunset had created between them in the years prior to Twilight's arrival. Twilight discovers that Fluttershy found the crown and gave it to Celestia, the school principal, who mistakes it for a prop meant for the elected Princess of the upcoming Fall Formal. Twilight decides to run for Fall Formal Princess against Sunset to retrieve the crown. Sunset tries sabotaging Twilight's campaign first by uploading a humiliating online video of Twilight behaving like a pony, and later framing her for wrecking the formal decorations in the school gymnasium. However, Twilight's new friends, including Sunset's ex-boyfriend Flash Sentry, help counter these ploys and improve Twilight's popularity among the students.

At the formal, Twilight wins the election and the crown, but Sunset steals it after threatening to destroy the portal to Equestria. Upon donning the crown, Sunset transforms into a demonic creature and uses her newfound powers to brainwash much of the student body into becoming her army with which to invade Equestria. When Sunset attacks Twilight, her friends race to save her, evoking the crown's magic that protects them and temporarily gives them pony-like attributes. The magic of their friendship reverts Sunset to her human form and breaks her spell on the other students. Sunset becomes repentant, and Twilight asks her friends to look after Sunset in her absence. Twilight spends time celebrating with her friends at the formal before she and Spike take the crown through the portal, which closes behind them. Twilight and Spike return to Equestria, transforming back to their original forms on arrival and reuniting with their Ponyville friends.

Cast[edit]

  • Tara Strong as Twilight Sparkle, a studious alicorn (formerly a unicorn) and newly crowned princess of Equestria. She transforms into a teenage girl after following her stolen crown through a magic mirror into an alternate human world.
  • Ashleigh Ball as Applejack, a hard-working apple farmer pony. The human version of Applejack appears as a seller of apple cider.
    • Ball also voices Rainbow Dash, a tomboyish and athletic Pegasus. Her human counterpart is a lover of sports such as soccer.
  • Andrea Libman as Pinkie Pie, a fun-loving pony who loves throwing parties. Her human counterpart acts as head of the school formal planning committee.
    • Libman also voices Fluttershy, a timid Pegasus with an affinity for animals. The human Fluttershy appears as an animal shelter volunteer.
  • Tabitha St. Germain as Rarity, a fashionable unicorn friend of Twilight. Her human counterpart, like her pony self, is a fashion designer.
    • St. Germain also voices Princess Luna, an alicorn, Celestia's younger sister and co-ruler of Equestria. Her human counterpart is the vice-principal of Canterlot High.
  • Cathy Weseluck as Spike, Twilight's young dragon assistant. He follows Twilight into the human world and becomes a dog.
  • Rebecca Shoichet as Sunset Shimmer, a bitter unicorn and Princess Celestia's former apprentice, who steals Princess Twilight's crown in a bid for power over both the human world and Equestria.
  • Lee Tockar as Snips, a pudgy and dimwitted student who acts as one of Sunset Shimmer's cohorts.
  • Richard Ian Cox as Snails, Snips' taller counterpart and cohort of Sunset Shimmer.
  • Nicole Oliver as Princess Celestia, the alicorn ruler of Equestria. Her human counterpart is the principal of Canterlot High.
    • Oliver also voices Cheerilee, who appears as a school teacher and librarian at Canterlot High.
  • Vincent Tong as Flash Sentry, a Pegasus guard at the Crystal Empire. His human counterpart is a guitar player, a romantic interest of Twilight, and Sunset Shimmer's ex-boyfriend.
  • Britt McKillip as Princess Cadance, an alicorn and ruler of the Crystal Empire.

The film features uncredited performances by Peter New as the human version of Big McIntosh, Applejack's brother; Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, and Claire Corlett as human versions of the Cutie Mark Crusaders (Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle); Kathleen Barr as a human Trixie; and Tabitha St. Germain as a human Mrs. Cake. Shoichet, Shannon Chan-Kent, and Kazumi Evans are also featured as the singing voices for Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity, respectively. The film also contains characters popularized by the show's adult fandom in minor and non-speaking roles, such as Derpy Hooves[3] and DJ Pon-3.[4][5]

Songs[edit]

Daniel Ingram stated in a Facebook post that he wrote six songs for the film in a more modern pop/girl group style that would fit the high school/urban setting.[6] He also mentioned some of the crew members with whom he worked, including Trevor Hoffman for vocal arrangements and David Corman and Sam Ryan for production, and that he collaborated with McCarthy on the lyrics.

  1. "This Strange World" — Twilight Sparkle
  2. "Equestria Girls (Cafeteria Song)" — Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity
  3. "Time to Come Together" — Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity
  4. "This Is Our Big Night" — Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity
  5. "This Is Our Big Night (Reprise)" — Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity
  6. "Credits Song: A Friend for Life" — Jerrica Santos[7]
  7. "My Little Pony Friends" (Deleted Song) - Kaylee Johnston,[8] AJ Woodworth, and Laura Hastings[9] The song was written to serve as the end credits to the film, but was passed over in favor of "A Friend for Life".[10] On August 14, 2014, the song was uploaded to Hasbro's YouTube channel.[11]

Composer William Anderson, who provided the score for the film, said that most of the background music remains consistent with the television show, though "with elements of thrash rock once in a while".[12]

Production[edit]

Prior to the film's announcement, Hasbro had used the term "Equestria Girls" as part of a parody song for advertising the show on the Hub Network during 2011, based on Katy Perry's "California Gurls".[13] Though fans had registered the domain name "equestriagirls.com", it was later shut down and taken over by Hasbro.[14]

Initial speculation on the film was found through trademark registrations for the name "Equestria Girls" by Hasbro in late 2012.[15] The film was revealed in the Kidscreen magazine released at the 2013 American International Toy Fair in February 2013.[16] Hasbro's senior vice president of international distribution and development, Finn Arnesen, called My Little Pony a "top-priority" brand for the company; the film was described as "a new companion series" that would "[send] the pony heroes on a mission to a new world where they take on human form".[16] The film was formally announced in The New York Times in May 2013.[17] To maintain continuity with the show, Hasbro used the same writing staff as the show, including the current story editor Meghan McCarthy, who considered the story to be "an extension of our mythology".[17] The film will be part of the 30th anniversary of the My Little Pony brand.[17] McCarthy stated that with the Equestria Girls setting, "we might explore different aspects of relationships that in the pony world don't quite work the same as they do when you set it in a high school setting", thus making the work more appealing to older girls that are in high or junior high school.[12]

Along with the film, Hasbro plans to produce related merchandise including toys, apparel, publishing and accessories. Hasbro's chief marketing officer, John A. Frascotti, called the film and associated merchandise a "major strategic initiative" for the company.[17] The human-based toys were developed to appeal to girls in their teens as a means to extend the My Little Pony brand.[18] In addition, Hasbro will continue its licensing deals with book publisher Little, Brown and Company and comic book publisher IDW Publishing to produce works based on the film.[19] A special short story, featuring the origins of Sunset Shimmer, was published in the IDW My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic 2013 San Diego Comic Con comic variant in July 2013. It also included additional stories in a stand-alone issue in October 2013.[20]

In writing the film's script, Meghan McCarthy went back to the television series' pilot episode, where Twilight is sent to Ponyville for the first time and forced to meet new friends. She wanted to do the same with the film, in this case putting Twilight into a new world where she would again be forced to make new friends to succeed in her quest.[21]

Release[edit]

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 15, 2013 as part of its Family Day.[22] The event included appearances by several of the show's creative staff and voice actors.[23] It was then presented under limited screen distribution through Screenvision, with around 200 screens across the United States and Canada, starting on June 16, 2013. Due to a larger-than-expected number of theater-goers in the initial weeks, Screenvision added additional showings to take advantage of the interest.[24] On May 12, 2013, a teaser trailer was released on the New York Times website,[25] followed by a full theatrical trailer from Entertainment Weekly on June 7, 2013.[26]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray by Shout Factory on August 6, 2013.[27] The Blu-ray release includes a behind-the-scenes documentary on the film's production, karaoke songs, a "ponify yourself" game, and a printable film poster.[21] The film premiered on the Hub Network, Hasbro's cable channel, on September 1, 2013.[28] Shout! Factory has signed with Hasbro to distribute the film internationally after its theatrical run.[29]

The Region 4 DVD was released by Madman Entertainment on September 4, 2013.[30] The Region 2 DVD and Blu-ray was originally advertised to be released by UK distributor Clear Vision in April 2014, but the distributor had since entered administration. However, the same UK distributor did manage to release a Region 2 DVD for France and Italy between March and April 2014. The UK version DVD and Blu-ray was eventually released on July 28, 2014.

International[edit]

In the United Kingdom, it was released in Showcase Cinemas on August 10, 2013.[31] It was released at Village Cinemas in Australia on August 24, 2013.[32] It aired in New Zealand through Event Cinemas for two weeks starting August 31, 2013.

Television[edit]

The film was to premiere in Malaysia on NTV7 on July 28, 2013 but it was cancelled.[33][34] "My Little Pony: Equestria Girls" premiered on The Hub on September 1, 2013.[35] In Germany, the German dub of the movie aired on August 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM and August 4, 2013 at 1:35 PM (local time) on Nickelodeon.[36] A Hungarian dub of the film premiered on the Minimax channel on September 29, 2013.[37] On September 22, 2013, the film premiered on YTV in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the film premiered on POP on November 23, 2013. The film premiered in Russia, CIS, EU, and Worldwide on January 5, 2014 on the Carousel/Carousel International.[38]

Promotion[edit]

Comic book[edit]

An Equestria Girls comic book, titled My Little Pony Annual 2013: Equestria Girls, was released on October 30, 2013.[39]

Live-action music video[edit]

On August 30, 2013, Entertainment Weekly released a live-action music video depicting six young female kids as the Equestria Girls (specifically the main six's human counterparts) doing a new dance routine called "The EG Stomp" to a shorter Toy Commercial version of the song "Equestria Girls" in a school cafeteria.[40]

Mini-game[edit]

On October 15, 2013, Gameloft's mobile game update included the Equestria Girls mini-game.[41]

Novel[edit]

An Equestria Girls novel by G.M. Berrow, titled My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Through the Mirror, was released on October 1, 2013.[42]

TV series[edit]

An animated TV series based on the Equestria Girls film spin-offs, titled Equestria Academy, was announced on April 3, 2014 and is set for a November 2014 premiere at the Kidexpo in France.[43]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

The film premiered on the Hub Network on September 1, 2013. It earned year-to-year delivery time gains among Kids 2-11 (+206%), Girls 2-11 (+505%), Kids 6-11 (+591%), Girls 6-11 (+1056%), Adults 18-49 (+463%), Women 18-49 (+460%), Adults 25-54 (+500%), Women 25-54 (+558%), Persons 2+ (+289%), and Households (+279%).[44] In the United Kingdom, 93,000 viewers watched the television broadcast on Pop, the most for the week of November 18—24.[45]

Critical reception[edit]

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls received generally mixed reviews from critics. Prior to the film's release, several mothers spoke to the New York Daily News stating concerns about the film's characters, describing the humanized characters as "too sexy", "anorexic", "going back to the original Barbie" or "looking like Bratz dolls", and several feared allowing their children to be influenced by the looks.[46] However, some considered it reasonable with other current media such as The Little Mermaid, with one parent stating she felt that it isn't "any worse than Ariel in a bikini top for two hours".[46] Slate's Amanda Marcotte considered that the characters' change to human form was to popularize the movie with the adult fanbase of the show, who she claims "have expressed a strong interest in seeing the Ponies in sexy, humanized forms".[47] However, many of these adult fans expressed disappointment in the announcement of the movie and the characters, considering the film to be trying to pander to this older audience, and that the approach "goes against everything that Pony was trying to prove".[48] Craig McCracken, speaking for his wife Lauren Faust, Friendship Is Magic's creative showrunner for the first two seasons before stepping down, stated that he felt she "wasn't the biggest fan" of Equestria Girls, opining that the approach of turning the pony characters into humans would have gone against the way she wanted to take the show.[49]

Daniel Alvarez of the website Unleash the Fanboy gave the film 4 stars out of 5, stating that Equestria Girls was a "highly entertaining movie", though some elements, such as the brief romantic plot and Sunset's ultimate fate, were weaker than other parts of the film.[4] Luke Thompson of Topless Robot was more critical of the film, as while not a viewer of the television show, he believed "whatever clever concepts the show may have [...] the movie does not do very much with", and considered the animation sub-standard for a TV-to-movie adaptation.[50] Iowa State Daily described the movie as one that was "probably just made to sell dolls and figurines", though still delivered a "great message for kids".[51] Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club rated the film a "B-" and considered that the film "is only a few songs and one amazing demon battle scene better than most of the [show's] two-part episodes", while otherwise treading on clichéd ideas from both the show and from other teen high school works.[52] Sherilyn Connelly of SF Weekly, though having enjoyed the movie, felt it was too similar to the television show's pilot episodes in how the characters needed to be re-introduced for the film audience, and that the "real disconnect" was the apparent reduction of age, from young adult in the show to teenagers within the film.[3] Connelly did, however, vote for the film as Best Animated Feature in the 2013 Village Voice Film Critics' Poll.[53] Toon Zone's Ed Liu considered that the movie "relies a bit too much on the familiar and the conventional", lacking the animated show's injection of "idiosyncratic character" into otherwise predictable plots, but otherwise praised the voice actors, music, and some of the movie's animation.[54]

Upon release to home video, Shout Factory reported that more than 100,000 units have been ordered at retail, the largest release that the company has seen in its ten-year history. As a result of the success, Hasbro has signed Shout to continue distribution of other out-of-print My Little Pony titles from earlier generations such as The Princess Promenade, as well as newer animated Transformers shows.[55]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, was announced in February 2014, and is set to be released theatrically on September 27, 2014 through Screenvision and Shout! Factory[56][57] at various theaters across the United States[58] and Canada.[59]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]