After years of keeping its movies to theatrical releases and DVDs, Studio Ghibli’s apparently going all-in streaming. Today it revealed it’s partnering with Netflix to stream its films in just about every part of the world… except North America and Japan.
From February 2020, 21 films from the legendary animation house Studio Ghibli are coming exclusively to Netflix.
We’re proud to bring beloved, influential stories like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbour Totoro to first-time viewers and high-flying fans alike. pic.twitter.com/955uiYAzA1
— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) January 20, 2020
If it feels like you’ve heard about Studio Ghibli’s films a lot lately, it’s because they’ve been a pawn in the streaming wars, having been snatched up by HBO for its new Max offering. The major companies behind the new streaming services have been busily divvying up every major intellectual property of the last 30 years, and Ghibli was a particularly noteworthy addition to the fledgling HBO option.
But while the studio’s sublime films have become fodder for the American streaming wars, the rest of the world (bar Japan) is going to have a much simpler time of it. According to Netflix, it’ll be streaming 21 Ghibli films to “Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America.”
Again, this seems most notable not necessarily for where the Studio’s films will stream, but for the fact that they’ll stream at all. Ghibli has been notoriously reluctant to release the films on any streaming service until last October, when Warner Media revealed the HBO Max deal. Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki alluded to this in the studio’s statement about the Netflix deal:
In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences. We’ve listened to our fans and have made the definitive decision to stream our film catalogue. We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience.
Given that Ghibli films weren’t available anywhere not too long ago, the fact that it’s now divided across two different services is a dizzying turnabout. Not to mention that, in a move that now seems strangely designed to undermine HBO, the studio revealed it’d be offering the films on major digital storefronts, including Amazon. The films debuted there on December 17.
I’ve yet to hear anything about a Japanese streaming service offering the studio’s films, but given how beloved they are in their home country, I think it’s safe to say they need neither Warner’s nor Netflix’s assistance.
Netflix is set to release all 21 films in three waves of seven. The first wave, which includes My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, releases on February 1, with the two subsequent waves arriving on the first days of March and April.
For American viewers, HBO Max is set to launch in May.