UPDATE, 1/20/2020 – Ghibli is spreading the wealth! Per a report from Variety, Netflix will also add a handful of Studio Ghibli features to its streaming library as soon as February. (The report explicitly names the Miyazaki-directed features Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro, as well as The Secret World of Arrietty and The Tale of Princess Kaguya.) The bad news for most of our readers is that such an opportunity for viewing won’t be available in the United States, Canada, or Japan.
As discussed in the below report, HBO Max claimed North American distribution rights for Studio Ghibli’s catalogue en masse. That HBO Max is not expected to be available outside of North America has given Netflix the opportunity to claim the rights to Ghibli within other territories. In short, no matter where you live, you may well get to stream your favorite Miyazaki movies before you know it!
10/28/2019 – The streaming wars continue to claim weaponry left and right. For every “All the Star Wars movies” Disney+ offers, Netflix fires back with “The complete series of Seinfeld.” And it’s starting to get pretty rough out there. Major studios and networks are launching their own streaming services all over the net, promising their own exclusive mixture of must-have favorites and top-tier new stuff. HBO Max, perhaps the upstart most in line to rival Disney+, has just scored a major coup for its side: it is now the exclusive streaming home of the entire Studio Ghibli library.
This is major for a few reasons. One is that, up until a few years ago, Disney had the theatrical and home video rights to the Studio Ghibli library, consisting of all of co-founder Hayao Miyazaki’s movies and quite a few of co-founder Isao Takahata’s. But those rights lapsed and slowly but surely GKIDS picked up the library. Now they’ve released every Ghibli film on Blu-ray and run theatrical screenings nationwide every year. That would have made Disney+’s already impressive offering even more so.
The other reason this is big news is timing. Earlier this week, Polygon ran a piece essentially detailing why Studio Ghibli would never offer its films for streaming.
“Studio Ghibli does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world,” a GKids representative told Polygon over email earlier this year. “They continue to believe that presentation is vital and particularly appreciate opportunities for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting.”
It certainly seemed like no one would ever see a Ghibli movie on a streaming service. But before any of us could even wrap our heads around the notion of never getting to put on Howl’s Moving Castle or My Neighbors the Yamadas whenever we felt like it, WarnerMedia released their statement of the rights acquisition.
HBO Max will be the US streaming home to the entire Studio Ghibli film library, one of the world’s most coveted and revered animation catalogues. The landmark deal with North American distributor GKIDS for the twenty-one Studio Ghibli feature films marks the first time these beloved films have been licensed to a streaming platform.
HBO Max, the name given to the WarnerMedia mega streaming service, is expected to launch in late spring of 2020.
The 21 Studio Ghibli films represent perhaps the most beloved animated films of all time. Maybe even strike “animated” from the previous sentence. The attention to detail, story construction, and a sense of wonder meant their films take a long time to make. But they rival only Pixar (and beat it depending on who you ask) in terms of consistent quality and ability to stir emotion.
Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, along with producer Toshio Suzuki, founded Studio Ghibli in June of 1985 following the success of Miyazaki’s second feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. In the ensuing 34 years, they produced a wide array of fantasy and drama films. Miyazaki directed 10 of the Studio’s features while Takahata directed five, though Grave of the Fireflies, his most lauded and hearbreaking work, is not among the films coming to HBO Max.
The films in the lineup are:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Whisper of the Heart
My Neighbors the Yamadas
The Cat Returns
Howl’d Moving Castle
Tales from Earthsea
The Secret World of Arrietty
From Up On Poppy Hill
The Wind Rises (coming Fall 2020)
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
When Marnie Was There
Is this a service-buyer for you? Is HBO Max now worth the price of admission? We’ll see; but WarnerMedia has certainly struck a blow, right in the prospective subscriber’s heartstrings.
Featured Image: Studio Ghibli
Kyle Anderson is the Senior Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!