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Studio Ghibli Shutting Down?
Written by Dreagen   
Monday, 27 December 2010 18:23

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio, founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, after the success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, distributed by Tōei.  The company rose to fame with groundbreaking animated films like Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service.  The studio gained international fame when Walt Disney Pictures acquired the exclusive rights to distribute the films outside of Japan.  The studio is also praised by fans for its "no cuts" policy.


 Ghibli Studio Kiki's Delivery Service

Ghibli Studio My Neighbor Totoro


Since those early years, Ghibli has risen as a powerhouse in the world of Japanese animation, earning tens of millions of dollars at the international box office.  Still, dark times seem to be looming on the horizon for this groundbreaking studio.   In a surprise announcement by Miyazaki, it was said that after more then two decades, the studio would possibly be closing down if their new films, The Borrower Arrietty, based on Mary Norton's novel The Borrowers, and its 2011 release Kokurikozaka Kara, do not perform well internationally.   Should the films do well in the overseas market however, the studio is prepared to move forward with its next project entitled The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.  This announcement sent a shockwave through the anime community, and has triggered an enormous fan outcry.  Still, nothing has been decided as of yet, but many are still unclear on just what the reasons for Ghibli even considering this, are.  The answer may not be as easy to ascertain as one would hope.  


Ghibli Studio Borrower Arrietty


Ghibli Studio Kokurikozaka kara


Indeed the studio has enjoyed much success abroad as well as in its homeland, but this international success may have worked as a double-edge sword in the realm where art meets business.   Like most companies, Ghibli started with humble beginnings, but quickly garnered the attention of outside investors, in this case Walt Disney.  With Disney backing them up, Ghibli was able to promote their films to a much wider and mainstream audience overseas than other companies could with their anime titles.  Even with the American anime boom at the dawn of the 21st Century, Ghibli was able to attract more mainstream attention than other studios, from the likes of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), who in 2002, honored the film Spirited Away with the Academy Award for best animated film.  Still, this now meant greater expectations for themselves on the part of Ghibli.  Such a high level of success would leave a sweet taste in anyone's mouth, and the loss of even some of it, a very bitter one.   As a result Ghibli may feel that even going back to the financial level of success they had before Disney stepped into the picture, may be too much of a disheartening step backwards, and thus would be easier to just simply throw in the towel.  Still, all of this is purely conjecture, and should in no way be taken as fact, pending an official statement from the studio.


 Ghibli Studio Castle in the Sky

Despite the various possible reasons why Ghibli would allow less than stellar western sales of their titles to be their deathblow, all can still agree Disney has not treated Ghibli's films with the same care and attention that they do their domestic properties, despite being dubbed in English by notable western actors.  Some of their films have enjoyed a U.S. limited theatrical release, like Tales from Earthsea and Ponyo, which was released on 927 theaters across America, making it the most largely promoted Ghibli film in America.  Still, not all in Disney have taken a laid back approach to the marketing Ghibli's films. John Lasseter is the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and a long time friend of Miyazaki.  He has overseen the dubbing of all his films in America and has been perhaps the strongest industry advocate of Studio Ghibli in the western world. "I believe in this one thing. I've been a big advocate within the Disney Company of trying to get Miyazaki's films out there for the DVD releases as well as for the theatrical releases, because I believe that once you see a Miyazaki film, you get hooked. You keep thinking about it well after you've seen it and you want to see it again," he said.


Ghibli Studio


So what are the legions of Ghibli fans the world over to do in light of this cryptic revelation?   The answer is simple: get involved.  Fans have already flooded forums online with talk of this issue.  However, more can and should be done.  Fans need to take the fight to the industry itself, talk to industry insiders at conventions, and buy the DVDs and Blu-Rays of Ghibli movies, so as to increase revenue for the studios.  Use the power of the Internet to get your voices heard and demand that more theatrical releases of these films, so the fans can have a better opportunity to show their love for them.  Create Facebook groups dedicated to this issue.  Show Ghibli that it is not a waste to continue their efforts, and furthermore show Disney that there is a large and profitable market with these films that can compete with any domestic title they can produce.  Fortunately or unfortunately, money determines all in the realm of industry, and thus the consumer base of this industry need to show that they are hungry for so much more.  It is that unified voice that can reach any CEO atop of the highest tower.


Ghibli Studio Spirited Away

These were some of my thoughts as to what can be done to combat this issue.  Now it's your turn to use your strength to make a difference.  Never give up the fight.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 02:09