My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (film)

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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
Starring
Music by William Anderson
Edited by Mark Kuehnel
Production
companies
Distributed by Screenvision
Release date
Running time
73 minutes
Country
  • Canada
  • United States
Language English
Box office $483,752 (Chile, Columbia, Peru, and United Kingdom)[1]

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is a 2013 CanadianAmerican flash animated fantasy musical film released as a part of Hasbro's toy line and media franchise of the same name, which is itself an anthropomorphized spin-off of the 2010 relaunch of the main My Little Pony franchise. The film was written by Meghan McCarthy and directed by Jayson Thiessen, and was produced by DHX Media's 2D animation studio in Vancouver, Canada for Hasbro Studios in the United States. It premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 15, 2013, followed by limited release in the United States and Canada on June 16, 2013, with a home media release on August 6, 2013. It also commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the launch of the original My Little Pony toy line.

The film re-envisions the main characters of parent franchise, normally ponies, as teenage human characters in a high school setting. Set between the third and fourth seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, 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 critical reception was mixed, with most criticism directed towards the character design and writing. The film was followed by three sequels – Rainbow Rocks (2014), Friendship Games (2015), and Legend of Everfree (2016) – all of which were more positively received.[2][3]

Plot[edit]

Twilight Sparkle visits the Crystal Empire for her first royal summit following her coronation as a princess of Equestria. Sunset Shimmer, a rogue student of Princess Celestia, emerges from a mirror portal during the night and steals Twilight's crown, which is embedded with one of the magical Elements of Harmony that protect Equestria. After a chase through the castle, Sunset drops the crown through the portal and follows after it. The other princesses explain that the portal leads to an alternate world; as the other Elements of Harmony are unusable without the crown, Twilight is tasked with retrieving it from the other world before the portal closes for thirty moons. Despite Celestia's insistence that Twilight must travel alone, Twilight's assistant, Spike, anxiously runs after her into the portal.

Twilight and Spike emerge in the other world in the form of a human teenager and dog, respectively. Twilight, who struggles to adjust to her new body, investigates the nearby Canterlot High School and encounters its human students and staff, several resembling ponies in Equestria. Masquerading as a transfer student, Twilight defends the counterpart of her friend Fluttershy from being bullied by Sunset. Twilight learns that Fluttershy has delivered the dropped crown to Principal Celestia, mistaking it for a prop meant for the elected "princess" of the Fall Formal, an upcoming school dance. Determining that no one would believe her claims of being a pony from another world, Twilight receives Celestia's permission to run for Fall Formal Princess against Sunset, the reigning princess, to recover the crown.

While continuing to explore school life, Twilight discovers that the counterparts of Fluttershy and her other friends from Ponyville – Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash – have all separated out of animosity. Sunset, who learns of Twilight's campaign against her, sends her cohorts Snips and Snails to record a humiliating video of Twilight behaving like a pony, which is posted online and viewed by the entire school. The counterparts of Twilight's friends come to her aid, only to argue among themselves, revealing the cause of their rift to be a series of treacherous text messages and emails they supposedly sent each other. Through a theory of Twilight's, the five girls realize that Sunset sent these messages to deceive them. Reconciling, the five help Twilight perform a public dance routine for her campaign, which improves Twilight's image.

In another attempt to undermine Twilight, Sunset has the formal decorations in the school gymnasium wrecked and uses edited photographs to frame Twilight for the act. Although Sunset's ex-boyfriend Flash Sentry proves Twilight's innocence, the formal is planned to be postponed to the night after the portal to Equestria closes. Twilight and Spike reveal their true identities to the other girls, convincing them of the situation's urgency. Under Twilight's direction, they rally the other students and successfully repair the damage in time for its original schedule, earning Twilight more of the school's support.

On the night of the formal, Twilight wins the election and the crown, but Sunset steals it back in a scuffle after kidnapping Spike and threatening to destroy the portal to Equestria. Upon donning the crown, Sunset transforms into a demonic creature and hypnotizes the other students, revealing her intent to conquer Equestria with the school as her army. When Sunset attacks Twilight and her friends, their friendship activates the crown's magic, shielding them and giving them pony-like ears, wings and tails. The six girls use their magic to revert Sunset and their schoolmates to normal. Sunset is humbled by the power of the girls' friendship and tearfully apologizes for her actions. After celebrating at the formal and placing Sunset under her friends' care, Twilight and Spike return to Equestria with the crown as the portal closes, reuniting with their pony friends.

Cast[edit]

The film features uncredited performances by Peter New as the counterpart of Big McIntosh, Applejack's brother; Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, and Claire Corlett as the counterparts of the Cutie Mark Crusaders (Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle); Kathleen Barr as Trixie; and Tabitha St. Germain as a counterpart of Mrs. Cake. Nicole Oliver also has a minor credited role as a counterpart of Cheerilee, a schoolteacher. In addition, the film contains cameo appearances by characters popularized by the adult fandom of My Little Pony in minor and non-speaking roles, such as DJ Pon-3 and what is known among fans as "Derpy Hooves".[4][5][6]

Production[edit]

To maintain continuity, Hasbro used the same writing staff as Friendship Is Magic television series, including the then-current story editor Meghan McCarthy, who considered the story to be "an extension of our mythology".[7] 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.[8]

In writing the film's script, Meghan McCarthy went back to the self-titled two-part pilot episodes of Friendship Is Magic, 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.[9]

Music[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.[10] 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.

  • "This Strange World" – Twilight Sparkle (voiceover)
  • "Equestria Girls (Cafeteria Song)" – Mane Six and students
  • "Time to Come Together" – Mane Six (voiceover)
  • "This Is Our Big Night" – Mane Six (voiceover)
  • "This Is Our Big Night (Reprise)" – Mane Six (voiceover)
  • "End Credits Song: A Friend for Life" – Jerrica Santos[11]
  • "My Little Pony Friends" (Deleted Song) – Kaylee Johnston,[12] AJ Woodworth, and Laura Hastings[13] The song was written to serve as the end credits to the film, but was passed over in favor of "A Friend for Life".[14] On August 14, 2014, the song was uploaded to Hasbro's YouTube channel.[15]

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".[8]

Release[edit]

Marketing[edit]

On May 12, 2013, a teaser trailer was first released on the New York Times website,[16] followed by a full theatrical trailer on Entertainment Weekly website on June 7, 2013.[17]

Theatrical[edit]

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 15, 2013 as part of its Family Day.[18] The event included appearances by several of the show's creative staff and voice actors.[19] It was then presented under limited screen distribution, with total of around 200 screens, through Screenvision and Cineplex theaters across the United States and Canada respectively, 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.[20] The screenings in the United States bore no classification from the MPAA (which is not a mandatory, although many theaters carried a G-rating), while the Canadian screenings had classifications from provincial film boards (usually G).

The film was re-released in select theaters across the United States on June 18 and 19, 2016 by distributor company Kidtoon Films.[21]

In the United Kingdom, it was released in Showcase Cinemas on August 10, 2013.[22] It was released at Village Cinemas in Australia on August 24, 2013.[23] It was released in New Zealand through Event Cinemas for two weeks starting August 31, 2013.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray by Shout! Factory on August 6, 2013.[24] The Blu-ray release includes a behind-the-scenes documentary on the film's production, karaoke songs, a "ponify yourself" video, and a printable film poster.[9] Shout! Factory has signed with Hasbro to distribute the film internationally after its theatrical run.[25][clarification needed]

The Region 4 DVD was released by Madman Entertainment on September 4, 2013.[26] 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.

Alongside Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games, this film was released in a box set on October 13, 2015 in Region 1.[27]

Television[edit]

The film made its United States television premiere on the Hub Network (a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro; now known as Discovery Family) on September 1, 2013.[28] On September 22, 2013, the film premiered on YTV in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the film premiered on Pop on November 23, 2013.

Merchandise and other media[edit]

The film is a part of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls toy line and media franchise launched by Hasbro, which was briefly mentioned in the media earlier in February and March 2013,[29][30] and formally announced in May 2013 with this film and other media strategy.[7] It was to be part of the 30th anniversary of the My Little Pony brand.[7] Hasbro planned to produce related merchandise including toys, apparel, publishing and accessories.[7] The human-based toys were developed to appeal to girls in their teens as a means to extend the My Little Pony brand.[31] In addition, LB Kids published a novelization of the film, and Gameloft included a themed mini-game in its My Little Pony mobile game. IDW published a backstory of the characters in the alternative universe (including Sunset Shimmer) in a stand-alone issue.[32][33]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film's soundtrack was released on September 23, 2014, via the iTunes Music Store.[34] "This Strange World" is absent in the album. On October 2, 2014, the soundtrack placed #15,[35] where the "My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks" soundtrack was two weeks ago on September 18.

No.TitleWriter(s)Performer(s)Length
1."Opening Titles (Remix)"Daniel Ingram and Lauren FaustRebecca Shoichet1:29
2."Equestria Girls (Cafeteria Song)"Daniel Ingram and Meghan McCarthyShannon Chan-Kent, Kazumi Evans, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Shoichet, ensemble2:53
3."Time to Come Together"Daniel Ingram and Meghan McCarthyShoichet, Evans, Ball, Libman, Chan-Kent, ensemble2:08
4."This Is Our Big Night (Full Version)"Daniel Ingram and Meghan McCarthyShoichet, Ball, Libman, Chan-Kent, Evans2:03
5."A Friend for Life"Daniel IngramJerrica Santos2:26
Total length:11.33

Reception[edit]

Media sales[edit]

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.[36]

Television viewership[edit]

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls premiered on the Hub Network on September 1, 2013. The film was viewed by 553,000 viewers.[37] 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%).[38] In the United Kingdom, 93,000 viewers watched the television broadcast on Pop, the most for the week of November 18–24.[39]

Critical response[edit]

There have been criticism over the anthropomorphism approach of the franchise overall (including the film). The New York Daily News reported that, while some feared allowing their children to be influenced by the looks of humanized characters, others considered it reasonable with other current media with considerable body exposure.[40] Slate's Amanda Marcotte considered that the characters' change to human form was to popularize the film with the adult fanbase of Friendship Is Magic.[41] However, many of these adult fans expressed disappointment over the humanized characters, worrying that the approach "goes against everything that Pony was trying to prove".[42] Craig McCracken, speaking for his wife Lauren Faust, Friendship Is Magic's creative showrunner for the first two seasons before stepping down, expressed concern that such approach would have gone against the way Faust wanted to take the television series.[43]

The film itself received mixed reviews from critics. 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.[5] Luke Thompson of Topless Robot was more critical of the film, as while not a viewer of Friendship Is Magic, 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.[44] 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".[45] 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 [Friendship Is Magic's] two-part episodes", while otherwise treading on clichéd ideas from both the Friendship Is Magic and from other teen high school works.[46] Sherilyn Connelly of SF Weekly, though having enjoyed the movie, felt it was too similar to the television series'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 Friendship Is Magic to teenagers within the film.[4] Connelly did, however, vote for the film as Best Animated Feature in the 2013 Village Voice Film Critics' Poll.[47] Toon Zone's Ed Liu considered that the movie "relies a bit too much on the familiar and the conventional", lacking Friendship Is Magic's injection of "idiosyncratic character" into otherwise predictable plots, but otherwise praised the voice actors, music, and some of the movie's animation.[48]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]