HBO Max disbandment leaves Studio Ghibli streaming fate uncertain


GKIDS has announced that for the first time in North America, acclaimed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli’s entire 22-film catalog is now available to rent on all major digital platforms including Apple TV, Amazon VOD , Vudu, Google Play and Microsoft. The films are available for digital download for rental in HD for $4.99 each.

The announcement comes amid ongoing cancellations and removals of animated series and projects on streaming services, such as Netflix and HBO Max, the only service streaming the studio’s catalog of movies in its streaming package. subscription – for now.

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Why Studio Ghibli’s Streaming Ban Was Lifted in 2019

GKIDS is an American film distributor specializing in critically acclaimed independent animations, including those from Studio Ghibli. Under the visionary direction of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Ghibli has been a global powerhouse in Japanese animation since the release of its 1984 film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. His immense talent and marketing strategy have made the studio a household name in the anime industry, winning numerous local and international awards. This includes four Academy Award nominations and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature of 2001 for Taken away as if by magic. GKIDS announced the acquisition of North American theatrical distribution rights to the Studio Ghibli library in 2011, followed by North American home media rights in 2017.

The beloved studio was initially hesitant to make its films available on digital platforms, favoring the experience of theatrical releases and physical media over the rise of streaming services. However, in 2019, the supposed ban on streaming the highly sought-after collection was lifted when WarnerMedia’s HBO Max struck an exclusive deal with GKIDS to acquire the rights to stream the entire catalog of movies in the US and the UK. Canada.

According to former Studio Ghibli president and co-founder Toshio Suzuki, the ban was lifted for two reasons: money and Miyazaki’s lack of knowledge of what a streaming service is. The legendary director is known for his dedication to traditionalism, which is also seen as a common theme in many of his films. While this may have been a problem with previous distribution efforts, Suzuki says Miyazaki’s absence from computers and smartphones allowed executives to receive his blessing to make films more digitally accessible, thus securing funding for productions. future projects.

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HBO Max Disbandment Makes Ghibli’s GKIDS Deal Even More Important

Sadly, that sentiment is taken away from many other creatives after the recent news of HBO Max disbanding. This comes in the wake of the upcoming merger with Warner Bros.’ streamer, Discovery Plus. The company’s change in management has already resulted in the cancellation and/or loss of several animation projects in the streaming vacuum; many fans and creatives lament the loss of accessibility for this struggling niche in the entertainment industry.

Along with constant budget cuts, abrupt cancellations, and the realization that digital streaming is vulnerable to the nature of the beast that is the business, many fans and creators are rightly concerned about the future of streaming. animation on streaming services.

As of this writing, it’s not yet known if HBO Max’s streaming rights for the Studio Ghibli library will transfer with the merger. Although the Ghibli catalog has been available for digital download since 2019, GKIDS now offers another, more affordable option for the many North Americans who want to continue experiencing the comfort and wonder of these animated films from home.

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