Studio Ghibli’s production department on suspension?


After 29 long years and 20 great animated films, general manager Toshio Suzuki announced that Studio Ghibli’s production department is considering taking a break and possibly disbanding (or restructuring). While he has not officially confirmed a definite shut down of the entire department yet, the company’s recent films have been unable to generate a decent profit. Just late last year, after releasing his final film The Wind Rises, co-founder and writer/director Hayao  Miyazaki stepped down and retired from the studio, handing over the reins to producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki. Since then, two films have been released: The Tale of Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There. However, The Tale of Princess Kaguya was considered a flop by the studio, unable to recoup the full cost of production.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya trailer #1:

The Tale of Princess Kaguya trailer #2:

According to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, one of the reasons for this financial strife may be due to Studio Ghibli’s disinclination of outsourcing parts of its production abroad, unlike other animation studios. While this keeps their animation quality as top notch and consistent as it was decades ago, this also exponentially increases the costs of production for each film.

Studio Ghibli has been known most famously for films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Ponyo, and more. Starting in 1989, Studio Ghibli’s next 5 films were all ranked to be the highest-grossing films of the year of each release: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Only Yesterday (1991), Porco Rosso (1992), Pom Poko (1994), and Whisper of the Heart (1995). Princess Mononoke (1997) was the first animated feature film in Japan’s history to gross more than 10 billion yen at the box office and the first animated film to win a National Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year. Spirited Away (2001) was the highest grossing film in Japanese history; this was the film that finally overtook Titanic (which was top worldwide at the time) at the Japanese box office.

Spirited Away English Trailer:

Spirited Away Japanese Trailer with English Subtitles:

The most recent Studio Ghibli film When Marnie Was There was released just this July 19th, with no signs of a US release date yet; we hope to see this one will be more of a success than the other ones, particularly if there continues to be rumors of an imminent shut down of Studio Ghibli’s production department.

From the latest announcement, Studio Ghibli will now focus on managing their trademarks and copyrights. They reportedly will be keeping the option to freelance projects open, much like how they used to operate prior to Porco Rosso. Further details have yet to be released; hopefully none of the rumors of the production department dismantling turn out to be true.

Check out screenshots from the TV announcement below:










Via Kotaku

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