GKIDS announced today that it has acquired North American distribution rights to director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura’s new animated feature Weathering With You.

It’s a significant deal for GKIDS, since Shinkai’s previous feature, 2016’s Your Name, broke global box office records for a Japanese film ($360 million worldwide box office).

Weathering With You tells the story of Hokoda, a high school freshman who escapes his island home during his summer vacation and heads to the alluring streets of Tokyo. Out of his element, he quickly finds himself in financial and emotional distress. From there, the story takes a twist, per the synopsis:

The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hokoda meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky…

Comix Wave Films produced the film. Shinkai wrote the script, in addition to directing. Key talent involved includes Masayoshi Tanaka (character designer), Atsushi Tamura (animation director), and Hiroshi Takiguchi (art director).

GKIDS is planning an awards qualifying run for the film in 2019 with a theatrical release set for early 2020 in both the original Japanese and a new English language version. Weathering With You will first open in Japanese cinemas this summer on July 19.

Should Weathering With You receive the same kind of critical and audience acclaim as Your Name did, then GKIDS’ involvement will be a major boon for the film during awards season. Shinkai’s earlier film, Your Name, was considered by many to be one of the finest animated features of its year and a lock for an Oscar nomination, but the film’s U.S. distributor, Funimation, was inexperienced with award season politics and failed to place the film in front of Academy voters. GKIDS, which has scored 11 Oscar noms for best animated feature — and managed to secure a nomination for Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai earlier this year (the first non-Ghibli anime to be nominated in the category) — should have no trouble getting Shinkai’s film the recognition it deserves.

“GKIDS is thrilled to be working with Makoto Shinkai and Genki Kawamura on Weathering With You, following their blockbuster hit Your Name,” said GKIDS founder and CEO Eric Beckman. “We have been huge fans of Makoto Shinkai since his breathtaking 5 Centimeters Per Second, and he is unquestionably one of the top animation filmmakers working today. Weathering With You combines Shinkai’s unparalleled visually beautiful and detailed animation with a riveting emotional story that will be sure to connect with audiences worldwide.”

Beckman and Akihiro Takeda for Toho finalized the all-rights deal out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

GKIDS’ upcoming 2019 slate already includes Funan, Buñuel and the Labyrinth of the Turtles, Children of the Sea, and Another Day of Life.

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