In the States, Studio Ghibli’s latest animated feature is being heavily touted as a contender for the Best Animated Feature category in the Oscars. On our shores, however, StudioCanal has opted to hold back The Red Turtle UK release date for May, which means it sadly won’t be eligible for the BAFTAs this year.
The cut-off date for BAFTA eligibility this year is February 12th. Confirmation of The Red Turtle UK release date being set for May means StudioCanal will have to wait until next year if they want the film to be considered.
Through the story of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds, The Red Turtle recounts the milestones in the life of a human being.
Though billed as a Studio Ghibli film, I saw the film at LFF – you can read our review here – and it’s definitely not typical fare for the Japanese animation house. At best, it feels like a co-production. More accurately, it seems that the Japanese studio offered some advice to Dutch-British director Michaël Dudok de Wit and his team in the process of making the film. Dudok de Wit makes his feature debut as a director, co-writing the script with Pascale Ferran (Bird People, Lady Chatterley).
While I personally wasn’t that big a fan, the majority of critics have rated the film very highly. And that praise has naturally led to its inclusion among the films being predicted for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. Ghibli has received five nominations over the years, with Spirited Away going on to win the Oscar back in 2003.
Amazingly, Studio Ghibli’s films have never been nominated at the BAFTAs since the Best Animated Film category was established in 2006. That may have swayed StudioCanal’s decision to hold back The Red Turtle UK release date to the end of spring. As the category only has room for three titles, compared with the Oscars’ five, it makes it that much harder for non-English-language titles to get a nomination.
StudioCanal is expected to give it a limited release. They’ve got a wealth of experience with Ghibli titles, and they know where their audiences are and which cinemas to screen the film in. The Red Turtle will be going up against Fox’s wide-release animated film, Captain Underpants, but the two are so different that they aren’t really even direct competitors. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the biggest movie out that week. And Warner Bros. also has their horror sequel, Annabelle 2.
The Red Turtle UK release date is set for May 26th. It begins its limited release in the US on January 20th. It will expand into select cities across the States in successive weeks.