CAA-Backed Elysian Acquires Studio Ghibli’s ‘Earwig and the Witch,’ Hires Nick McKay as Head of Distribution

Nick McKay has joined Elysian Film Group Distribution as head of distribution, while the company has acquired Studio Ghibli’s “Earwig and the Witch,” its first project for U.K. theatrical release.

McKay was previously head of distribution at Picturehouse Entertainment, where he worked on a theatrical and home entertainment slate including “The Wife,” “The Party” and “God’s Own Country.”

One of McKay’s first tasks at Elysian will be the early 2021 U.K. release of “Earwig and the Witch,” which Elysian acquired from Wild Bunch International. Based on the children’s novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, the film is the iconic animation studio’s first entirely 3DCG animated film. The film is directed by Goro Miyazaki and produced by studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki with planning from his father, Oscar winner Hayao Miyazaki.

The film, which was chosen earlier this year as part of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival Official Selection, follows orphan Earwig who has no idea that her mother had magical powers. Her life takes a new turn when a strange family takes her in, and she is forced to live with a selfish witch.

Elysian Film Group, including its distribution arm, was launched at Berlin’s European Film Market earlier this year by industry veteran Danny Perkins and producer Kate Solomon (“United 93”). The company is backed by a minority investment from CAA, marking the first time the agency has worked with a U.K. partner to launch a distribution label.

McKay joined Picturehouse Entertainment in 2017 from Soda Pictures where he was head of distribution. He was previously head of theatrical sales for Studiocanal U.K. for 12 years, where Perkins was CEO.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Danny Perkins’ Elysian Film Group and to have the opportunity to contribute to his exciting vision for the company, along with the immensely talented people he has already put in place. Danny’s commercial acumen, inspiring leadership as well as taste and belief in filmmakers and artists makes me very excited about what is to follow,” said McKay.

“I can’t wait to start working with Nick again. We had a long and successful working relationship at Optimum/Studiocanal and we are very fortunate to welcome him to Elysian to lead our distribution endeavours. I am also honored to be working on a Studio Ghibli title once more and look forward to bringing ‘Earwig and the Witch’ to the big screen in the UK early next year,” said Perkins.

Elysian Film Group and its distribution arm recently announced their first U.K. production will be “Greatest Days,” a feel-good film based on the stage musical “The Band,” which features 16 hit songs from U.K. boy band, Take That. The film is currently in development.

Elysian recently launched Mews Films, a joint venture comedy label with Archery Pictures that will develop and produce British comedy features from emerging and established talent.

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