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Privately Held
Industry Film Distribution
Founded 2008
Founder Eric Beckman
Headquarters New York City, United States
Products Motion pictures
Website GKIDSfilms.com

GKIDS (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate) is an American film distributor based in New York with a focus on "sophisticated, indie" animation.[1] GKIDS uses a "bespoke" distribution method to release critically acclaimed,[2] hand-drawn,[3] international[1] films—such as the works of renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki[4]—to North American audiences.

The company has gained prominence since 2010 by garnering a series of Academy Award nominations for little-known, "underdog" films,[5] beating out big-budget American films such as The Lego Movie and The Peanuts Movie.[6]


GKIDS was founded in 2008 by Eric Beckman, who previously founded and ran the New York International Children's Film Festival since 1997.[7] Their first general release was Azur & Asmar, a French film dubbed in English for British and Irish audiences.

My Neighbor Totoro is in the Studio Ghibli collection, distributed by GKIDS.

The company attained national recognition with the 2010 release of The Secret of Kells,[8] the debut film by Irish animator Tomm Moore, which received a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards.[9] This surprise nomination was followed by two more Best Animated Feature nominations at the 84th Academy Awards, Spanish-language Chico and Rita and French-language A Cat in Paris.[10] Both nominations were considered highly surprising by film insiders,[11][12] beating out such notables as The Adventures of Tintin and Cars 2—the first eligible Pixar film not to be nominated since the category's founding.[13] This marked the first time that an independent distributor had two films in the Best Animated Feature category in the same year,[14] a decision which Puss in Boots director Chris Miller said indicated the Academy's "respect for diversity."[15]

In September 2011, GKIDS announced the acquisition of the North American theatrical rights (previously held by Disney) to the widely acclaimed Studio Ghibli collection, including such titles as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro.[16] GKIDS has since also managed the North American distribution of two new Studio Ghibli films, From Up on Poppy Hill in 2013[17] and The Tale of Princess Kaguya in 2014.[18]

GKIDS received three more Oscar nominations in 2014 and 2015 with Ernest & Celestine,[19] Song of the Sea, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.[20] These latter two films beat out The Lego Movie, widely considered to be the frontrunner for the award.[21][22][23] GKIDS has since released four new films in 2015, of which When Marnie Was There, Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet and Boy & the World are in the running for Best Animated Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.[24]

Style and reception[edit]

While films distributed by GKIDS span a wide range of nationalities, languages, and animation styles, the distributor focuses almost exclusively on "handmade, mostly auteur-driven animated movies" created by individual animators working with small teams.[25] Founder Eric Beckman has described their films as counter-programming to the predominance of "expensive-to-produce, expensive-to-distribute" animated films, primarily made using CGI, embodied by Kung Fu Panda 2 or Puss in Boots.[25] To this end, the company relies heavily on critical reception and accolades to attract audiences, rather than big-budget marketing campaigns. Beckman has said of the Academy Awards, "The Oscars are the great equalizer. You don't have to spend millions to reach millions, you look to a smaller group of people who know and like film [...] But you've got to start with something super."[26]

As a result of this focus on artful, stylistically distinct animation, GKIDS has been widely hailed by critics and animation insiders as a welcome complement to the standard Hollywood fare. Various sources have referred to GKIDS as "the saints of independent animation,"[27] "one of the most notable independent distribution companies in the US,"[28] and "the country's best distributor [for] traditional hand-drawn animation."[3] Industry magazine Film Journal International said of the company's track record, "The reason GKIDS films keep getting nominated despite the company's low (relative to Disney, DreamWorks, et. al.) profile is that, simply put, their films tend to be really good."[29]

Sita Sings the Blues was one of the best-reviewed films of 2009.

Two films in GKIDS's collection have a perfect 100% fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, The Tale of Princess Kaguya with 80 positive reviews[30] and Sita Sings the Blues with 32 positive reviews.[31] This latter film, combining stylistic elements of Rajput painting, shadow puppets, vector graphic animation, and Squigglevision, was selected by Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Roger Ebert for his annual Ebertfest, calling it "one of the year's best films":[32]

I was enchanted. I was swept away. I was smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord. [...] To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle.

— Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert's Journal[33]

Films distributed by GKIDS[edit]

US title Original title US release Rotten Tomatoes score
Tahaan[34] Tahaan September 5, 2008 No reviews
Azur & Asmar Azur et Asmar October 17, 2008 (New York)
November 27, 2008
Sita Sings the Blues Sita Sings the Blues December 25, 2009 (New York)[36][37] 100%[31]
Secret of Kells, TheThe Secret of Kells Secret of Kells, TheThe Secret of Kells March 5, 2010 (New York)
March 19, 2010[38]
West of Pluto À l'ouest de Pluton March 26, 2010[39] No reviews
Summer Wars Samā Wōzu December 3, 2010[40] 76%[41]
Eleanor's Secret Kérity : La Maison des contes January 21, 2011[36] No reviews
Mia and the Migoo Mia et le Migou March 25, 2011 (New York)
April 22, 2011[42]
Studio Ghibli Collection, TheThe Studio Ghibli Collection
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
Kiki's Delivery Service
Only Yesterday
Porco Rosso
Ocean Waves
Pom Poko
Whisper of the Heart
Princess Mononoke
My Neighbors the Yamadas
Spirited Away
The Cat Returns
Studio Ghibli Collection, TheThe Studio Ghibli Collection
Kaze no tani no Naushika
Tenkū no shiro Rapyuta
Tonari no Totoro
Majo no takkyūbin
Omohide poroporo
Kurenai no buta
Umi ga kikoeru
Heisei tanuki gassen Pon poko
Mimi o sumaseba
Hōhokekyo: Tonari no Yamada-kun
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
Neko no ongaeshi
December 16, 2011[44]

No reviews

Chico & Rita Chico & Rita February 10, 2012 (New York)
February 17, 2012[57]
Cat in Paris, AA Cat in Paris Une vie de chat June 1, 2012[59] 82%[60]
Tales of the Night Contes de la nuit, LesLes Contes de la nuit September 26, 2012[61] 78%[62]
The Rabbi's Cat Le Chat du rabbin December 7, 2012 (New York)[63]
January 4, 2013[64]
Approved for Adoption Couleur de peau: miel February 8, 2013 (New York) No reviews
Wrinkles Arrugas February 8, 2013[66] 96%[67]
Letter to Momo, AA Letter to Momo Momo e no Tegami February 10, 2013[68] 79%[69]
Ernest & Celestine[70] Ernest et Célestine February 27, 2013 97%[71]
From Up on Poppy Hill Kokuriko-zaka kara March 15, 2013[72] 83%[73]
Painting, TheThe Painting Tableau, LeLe Tableau May 10, 2013[74] 82%[75]
Grave of the Fireflies Hotaru no Haka November 9, 2013[76] 97%[77]
Patema Inverted Sakasama no Patema August 29, 2014 79%[78]
Nocturna Nocturna, la nuit magique September 4, 2014 No reviews
Welcome to the Space Show Uchū Show e Yōkoso October 14, 2014 No reviews
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Kaguya-hime no Monogatari October 17, 2014 100%[30]
Song of the Sea[79] Song of the Sea December 19, 2014 99%[80]
When Marnie Was There Omoide no Marnie May 22, 2015 90%[81]
Zarafa[82] Zarafa July 3, 2015 76%[83]
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet August 7, 2015 70%[84]
The Boy and the World[85] O Menino e o Mundo December 11, 2015 94%[86]

The company also tours selections of short and feature films screened at NYICFF across the country. In mid-2009 the live-action features Tahaan and West of Pluto (À l'ouest de Pluton) were licensed for potential general releases but plans for both were dropped by late 2011 in favour of a focus on animation.[87]


  1. ^ a b http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/14/entertainment/la-et-mn-gkids-foreign-film20121114
  2. ^ http://variety.com/2015/film/awards/song-of-the-sea-kaguya-are-distributor-gkids-latest-oscar-nommed-animated-films-1201431528/
  3. ^ a b http://www.vox.com/culture/2015/12/9/9873262/boy-and-the-world-clip
  4. ^ http://www.awn.com/news/gkids-picks-studio-ghibli-only-yesterday
  5. ^ http://bondinfluence.com/news/gkids-scores-two-best-animated-feature-academy-award-nominations/
  6. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/oscars-indie-distributor-gkids-pushes-764079
  7. ^ "About us". GKIDS.tv. GKIDS. February 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2012. GKIDS is the producer of the fabulous New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF), […] Since its inception in 1997, […] This year's festival runs from February 29 to March 16 in multiple theaters around New York City. 
  8. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/movies/awardsseason/03kells.html
  9. ^ https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2010
  10. ^ https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2012
  11. ^ http://www.craveonline.com/culture/181765-the-2012-oscar-nominations-weird-us-out
  12. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/oscars-cartoon-snub-tintin-arthur-christmas-pixar-287831
  13. ^ http://movieline.com/2012/02/16/john-carter-producer-pixar-backlash-to-blame-for-cars-2-oscar-snub/
  14. ^ Kilday, Gregg. "Independent Distributor GKIDS Makes Its Mark With Two Oscar Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  15. ^ http://www.qconline.com/life/animation-feature-nominees-are-unexpected/article_ad76150b-fec1-518e-8d1f-d1d28d650ca7.html
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  19. ^ http://www.avclub.com/review/oscar-nominated-ernest-celestine-hand-drawn-animat-201570
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  25. ^ a b http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/oscars-animation-gkids-chico-rita-cat-paris-290165
  26. ^ http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204795304577219322759160722
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  29. ^ http://www.filmjournal.com/features/boy-in-the-world-ale-abreu-interview-gkids
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  31. ^ a b c http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sita_sings_the_blues/
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  34. ^ "Tour". Retrieved February 10, 2012. 
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  36. ^ a b No general release but made available for individual bookings.
  37. ^ Animated Features 5
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  40. ^ "Summer Wars in Tempe, Minneapolis, Portland, Greensboro (updated) – News". Anime News Network. Anime News Network. December 2, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2012. Dec 3–8 
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  42. ^ Hey everyone! We... | Facebook
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  46. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/castle_in_the_sky_1989/
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  48. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kikis_delivery_service/
  49. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/omohide_poro_poro/
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  53. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/princess_mononoke_1999/
  54. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/my_neighbors_the_yamadas/
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  56. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_cat_returns/
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  58. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/chico_and_rita/
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  60. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/a_cat_in_paris/
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  62. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tales_of_the_night/
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  64. ^ "Theaters & Openings". The Rabbi's Cat. Facebook. Retrieved January 15, 2013. Opens January 4th 2013 
  65. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_rabbis_cat/
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  70. ^ GKIDS to distribute Ernest & Celestine | Cartoon Brew
  71. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ernest_and_celestine/
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  74. ^ "Cover photos". GKIDS. Facebook. May 3, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2012. In select theaters May 10 
  75. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_painting_2013/
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  78. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/patema_inverted/
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External links[edit]