My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games
|My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games|
Region 1 DVD cover
|Directed by||Ishi Rudell|
|Produced by||Devon Cody|
|Written by||Josh Haber|
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic|
developed for television by Lauren Faust, and the My Little Pony toyline originally created by Bonnie Zacherle
|Music by||William Anderson|
|Edited by||Rachel Kenzie|
|Distributed by||Shout! Factory (United States and Canada home media)|
|72 minutes (DVD/Blu-ray)|
My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games is a 2015 animated musical fantasy film sequel to 2014's My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, written by Josh Haber and directed by Ishi Rudell. It was produced by DHX Media's 2D animation studio in Vancouver, Canada for Hasbro Studios in the United States, as part of the sport-themed Friendship Games lineup launched in the same year by Hasbro as a third installment in the Equestria Girls toy line and media franchise, itself a spin-off of the 2010 relaunch of My Little Pony. Unlike the two previous Equestria Girls films, which had limited theatrical releases in the United States and Canada, the film only received a television network premiere on Discovery Family, a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro, on September 26, 2015, with a home media release on October 13 that year; however, the film did have a limited theatrical run in the United Kingdom and Australia beginning in late October 2015.
Like the first two Equestria Girls films, Friendship Games re-envisions the main characters of parent franchise, normally ponies, as teenage human characters in a high school setting. The film's story centers around a sports competition between the students of Canterlot High School and their rivals at Crystal Prep Academy, one of whom is the alternative world's counterpart of Twilight Sparkle, who has been investigating magical activity around Canterlot High.
The students of Canterlot High School prepare for the Friendship Games, an academic and sporting competition regularly held between their school's team, the Wondercolts, and the undefeated Shadowbolts from Crystal Prep Academy. Sunset Shimmer, who has been observing her friends' magical ability to "pony up" (grow pony-like ears, tails, and wings) whenever they play musical instruments, becomes concerned when Rainbow Dash transforms during a pep rally, seemingly at random. Tasked with finding the cause of this development, Sunset attempts to contact Twilight Sparkle in Equestria for advice, but receives no response.
Meanwhile, Crystal Prep is attended by the counterpart of Twilight, a school outcast who has been investigating the magical activity surrounding Canterlot High. Twilight builds a locket-like device with which to detect and contain the magic for further study, hoping this will secure her application for Everton, a coveted independent study program. However, Abacus Cinch, her school principal, threatens to revoke the application so as to blackmail Twilight into participating in the Friendship Games and maintain Crystal Prep's victory record.
Upon Twilight's arrival at Canterlot High, her device detects Sunset and her friends' magic and leads Twilight to them; as she approaches, the device inadvertently drains Rarity's magic when she "ponies up" after making uniforms for her friends. Sunset, initially mistaking Twilight for her pony counterpart, quickly realizes the misunderstanding and considers consulting the pony Twilight in person. When Crystal Prep's Twilight follows her to the portal to Equestria, the device absorbs its magic and deactivates it. The device similarly affects Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy when they attempt to befriend Twilight during the games, briefly tearing open dimensional rifts to Equestria as a result each time; the absorbed magic also gives Twilight's pet dog, Spike, the ability to speak when he is struck by an energy stream.
Following Twilight's victory in the games' academic decathlon, the games continue with a "tricross relay", a relay race between archery, speed skating and motocross. Applejack transforms after advising a struggling Twilight in her stage of the race, causing the device to steal Applejack's magic and create a rift that temporarily brings monstrous plants through. Rainbow Dash "ponies up" to save the other competitors, allowing Canterlot High to win the event to tie with Crystal Prep before she loses her magic as well. Frustrated by her own failure to keep the magic under control, Sunset furiously rebukes Twilight for endangering her friends, much to her regret after this sends Twilight away crying.
Accusing Canterlot High of cheating due to their perceived magical advantage, Cinch and the Shadowbolts pressure Twilight into releasing the accumulated magic within her device to harness it against the Wondercolts in the final event. The magic instead corrupts Twilight, turning her into a winged and horned monster, and she proceeds to obsessively open more rifts that threaten to destroy the parallel world. As the Wondercolts and Shadowbolts work together to save their classmates, Sunset notices her friends' magical auras and realizes that their magic manifests when they exhibit the same traits as the Elements of Harmony. Gathering their magic with the device, Sunset assumes an angelic form and closes the rifts. She and Spike then help Twilight regain her senses, returning her to normal.
Both schools, including the repentant Shadowbolts, accost Cinch for manipulating Twilight. Refusing to relent, Cinch threatens to report the incident to the school board. When taunted that no one would believe her account of the magical incidents, however, she concedes to a tie that is celebrated by both teams. Twilight, reconsidering her Everton application, realizes she is happier at Canterlot High and transfers there, where Sunset and the other students welcome her as a new friend.
In a pre-credits scene, the Twilight from Equestria emerges from the reactivated portal with the counterparts of her friends gathered around it. She apologizes for her absence, explaining that she has just escaped from a time travel loop, before gawking at the sight of her own counterpart.
- Tara Strong as Twilight Sparkle, the socially awkward prized student of Crystal Prep Academy and member of the Shadowbolts; her counterpart in Equestria appears in a pre-credits scene.
- Rebecca Shoichet, who performs Twilight's singing voice, also voices Sunset Shimmer, a Canterlot High School student and Wondercolt who hails as a unicorn from Equestria.
- Ashleigh Ball as Rainbow Dash, a competitive athlete and Wondercolt who promotes school loyalty; and Applejack, an honest country girl and Wondercolt.
- Andrea Libman as Pinkie Pie, a cheerful, party-obsessed Wondercolt; Fluttershy, a kindhearted Wondercolt and animal lover; and Sweetie Drops, a Wondercolt.
- Tabitha St. Germain as Rarity, a dressmaker Wondercolt with a generous spirit; and Vice Principal Luna, Celestia's younger sister. Kazumi Evans performs Rarity's singing voice.
- Cathy Weseluck as Spike, Twilight's pet dog who magically gains the ability to speak.
- Iris Quinn as Principal Abacus Cinch, the reputation-obsessed head of Crystal Prep Academy.
- Sharon Alexander as Sour Sweet, a Shadowbolt who alternates between an obnoxiously nice and ill-tempered personality.
- Sienna Bohn as Sugarcoat, a Shadowbolt who bluntly speaks her mind.
- Kelly Sheridan as Indigo Zap, a hypercompetitive Shadowbolt.
- Britt Irvin as Sunny Flare, a disdainful Shadowbolt.
- Shannon Chan-Kent, who performs Pinkie Pie's singing voice, also voices Lemon Zest, a Shadowbolt and rock music enthusiast.
- Nicole Oliver as Principal Celestia, the head of Canterlot High School.
- Britt McKillip as Dean Cadance, the friendly dean of Crystal Prep Academy.
- Vincent Tong as Flash Sentry, a Wondercolt who is enamored with Twilight's counterpart in Equestria; and an unnamed Crystal Prep bus driver.
- Andrew Francis as Shining Armor, a Crystal Prep alumnus and Twilight's older brother.
The third installment was first teased by Rainbow Rocks co-director, Ishi Rudell on December 12, 2014. Brony Donald "Dusty Katt" Rhoades asked wondering about Rudell's silence on Twitter, and Rudell replied that he was "too busy working on #3".
On January 29, 2015, Australian home media distributor Beyond Home Entertainment stated via Facebook that they had obtained distribution rights for seasons 4 and 5 of Friendship Is Magic, in addition to Rainbow Rocks and the "third Equestria Girls [film]". Further confirmation was given during Hasbro's investor presentation at the 2015 New York Toy Fair, along with other products in the Friendship Games lineup.
The concept designs for the film's ending credits were done by Katrina Hadley with Chris Lienonin and Jerremy Mah on the layouts.
Like the previous two installments, the songs were composed by Daniel Ingram with lyric writing shared between Ingram and screenwriter Josh Haber; with the exception of "Friendship Games" and "ACADECA" which had lyrics by Ingram. Even though it wasn't listed in Discovery Family's televised broadcast of the film's ending credits, "What More Is Out There?" can be heard in the film. Although "Right There in Front of Me" can be seen in the credits, it does not appear in the film. Song production was done by Caleb Chan with vocal arrangements by Trevor Hoffman.
- "Friendship Games" – Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and ensemble (voiceover)
- "CHS Rally Song" – Rainbow Dash and full company
- "What More Is Out There?" – Twilight Sparkle
- "ACADECA" (Academic Decathlon) – Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer and full company (voiceover)
- "Unleash the Magic" – Principal Abacus Cinch, Twilight Sparkle, and the students of Crystal Prep Academy
- "Credits Song: Right There in Front of Me" – Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and ensemble (voiceover)
One of the deleted scenes included in the Blu-ray and DVD set is an alternate version of the song "What More Is Out There?", featuring both Crystal Prep's Twilight Sparkle and Canterlot High's Sunset Shimmer. The song was originally intended as a duet for the two characters, but due to time constraints and the removal of a subplot, it was ultimately rewritten as a solo for Twilight.
On July 1, 2015, the film's trailer was first released on USA Today website. Eight days later on July 9, 2015, a second trailer was showcased at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con. Friendship Games buttons were also given away at the convention.
The film received a theatrical debut exclusively at the Angelika Film Center in New York City on September 17, 2015. William Anderson, Ashleigh Ball, G.M. Berrow, Josh Haber, Daniel Ingram, Brian Lenard, Andrea Libman, Ishi Rudell, Rebecca Shoichet, Tara Strong, and Cathy Weseluck, including Sarah Michelle Gellar from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and comedian Jim Gaffigan, were among those in attendance. Also in attendance was The Real Housewives of New York star Kristen Taekman, Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, America's Got Talent host Nick Cannon, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, fashion photographer Nigel Barker, Sons of Anarchy's Drea de Matteo, and fitness guru Tracy Anderson.
Friendship Games had a limited theatrical release in select Vue Cinemas theaters in the United Kingdom between October 24, and November 1, 2015. The film had a limited theatrical release at various Hoyts theaters in Australia between October 31, and November 10, 2015.
In the United States, the film was premiered on Discovery Family (a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro) on September 26, 2015. On December 24 (Christmas Eve), 2015, the film made its debut in the United Kingdom on Pop.
Home media and streaming
In the United States and Canada, Shout! Factory released Friendship Games on DVD (Region 1), Blu-ray disc, digital download release, and in a box set alongside its two predecessors on October 13, 2015. DVD and Blu-ray special features consist of four storyboard animatic deleted scenes, audio commentary, sing-alongs, and five animated shorts. Primal Screen released a Region 2 DVD on November 2, 2015, and includes the five animated shorts and a recap of the first two Equestria Girls films.
On November 30, 2015, the My Little Pony Facebook page posted an advertisement promoting that the film will be added to Netflix on December 1, 2015. The version used on Netflix is the same as the one found on the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film with the end credits song, "Right There in Front of Me", playing over the film's end credits.
Merchandise and other media
The film is a part of sport-themed Friendship Games lineup, a third installment in the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls toy line and media franchise, which was first displayed at London's 2015 Toy Fair in January, and mentioned with other supporting products, alongside this film, during Hasbro's investor presentation in February that year. LB Kids published a novelization of the film.
A series of animated prequel shorts for Friendship Games, similar to those produced for Rainbow Rocks, was announced on February 13, 2015. On July 31, 2015, the My Little Pony Facebook page posted some instructions for playing in the "Friendship Games Fantasy League" and indicated that a new short would be released every Saturday during August 2015. Like the Rainbow Rocks shorts, these are also separate from the film. A total of five shorts were released; the first four of these, paired with a 10-minute preview of the film, aired on Discovery Family on August 29, 2015.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original airdate|
|1||"The Science of Magic"||Jayson Thiessen||Natasha Levinger||August 1, 2015|
|Sunset Shimmer studies her friends' pony hybrid transformations to better understand how magic works in the parallel world.|
|2||"Pinkie Spy"||Jayson Thiessen||Natasha Levinger||August 8, 2015|
|Rainbow Dash tries to spy on Crystal Prep Academy's sports team, but Pinkie Pie ruins her attempts to remain unseen.|
|3||"All's Fair in Love & Friendship Games"||Jayson Thiessen||—||August 15, 2015|
|Lyra Heartstrings (Ashleigh Ball) and Sweetie Drops (Andrea Libman) compete to earn a spot on the Wondercolts team in the Friendship Games tryouts.|
|4||"Photo Finished"||Jayson Thiessen||Ishi Rudell and Jayson Thiessen||August 22, 2015|
|Photo Finish (Tabitha St. Germain) gets carried away when Vice Principal Luna asks her to take pictures for the Canterlot High yearbook.|
|5||"A Banner Day"||Jayson Thiessen||—||August 29, 2015|
|Flash Sentry, Micro Chips (James Kirk), and Sandalwood (Vincent Tong) have conflicting ideas on their welcome banner for Crystal Prep Academy.|
The film's soundtrack was released on September 17, 2015 on iTunes and on Amazon.com on September 18, 2015. The first three tracks, "Friendship Through the Ages", "My Past is Not Today" and "Life Is a Runway", were first released by Hasbro's YouTube channel on March 31, 2015; later re-uploaded on April 2, 2015.
|1.||"Friendship Through the Ages"||Daniel Ingram||The Rainbooms||2:08|
|2.||"My Past Is Not Today"||Daniel Ingram||Sunset Shimmer||2:19|
|3.||"Life Is a Runway"||Daniel Ingram||Rarity||1:58|
|4.||"Dance Magic"||Daniel Ingram||Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity||2:04|
|5.||"The Friendship Games"||Daniel Ingram||Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and ensemble||2:41|
|6.||"CHS Rally Song"||Josh Haber and Daniel Ingram||Rainbow Dash and the students of Canterlot High School||2:30|
|7.||"What More Is Out There"||Josh Haber and Daniel Ingram||Twilight Sparkle||2:48|
|8.||"Acadeca"||Daniel Ingram||Full Company||2:42|
|9.||"Unleash the Magic"||Josh Haber and Daniel Ingram||Principal Abacus Cinch, Twilight Sparkle, and the students of Crystal Prep Academy||3:09|
|10.||"Right There in Front of Me"||Daniel Ingram||Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity||2:59|
- Song notes
When the film was premiered on Discovery Family on September 26, 2015, it was viewed by 436,000 viewers. According to the Nielsen household ratings, it was watched by approximately 0.12 percent of American households.
The film was received favorably by critics. Daniel Alvarez of Unleash the Fanboy gave the film a score of 8 out of 10, calling it "another quality installment in the Equestria Girls series." He praised to the film's characters, calling Sunset Shimmer "a great focus", as well as the film's songs and "epic climax." However, he noted that several negatives "hold it back from being near perfect", such as Principal Cinch, whom he called "the worst antagonist." Geekscape's Adam Lemuz praised the film as "a great follow-up to Rainbow Rocks." He further complimented that "fans of the previous films will get a lot of enjoyment out of it as it delivers plenty of solid laughs and noteworthy songs." Ed Liu of Toon Zone called the film "solid addition to the Equestria Girls franchise", but felt it was "overly familiar" and "a little padded" when comparing it to the first film's story. He also praised Sunset Shimmer's development from "a vintage mean girl to a strong, assertive character in her own right", calling her character arc initiated from the first film "a wonderful long-form story". Mike Cahill of The Guardian gave the film two out of five stars, calling it "craven commercialism", but adding that "it's not unattractively designed, and its peppy collegiate spirit trumps the sappiness of Disney's Tinkerbell spin-offs".
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