Studio Ghibli Might Quit Making Feature Films, Says Report

Studio Ghibli Might Quit Making Feature Films, Says Report

There's a new Studio Ghibli movie in coming weeks. According to one reported insider, it could be Ghibli's last.

Studio Ghibli is best known for iconic anime like My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and Kiki's Delivery Service. Last year, the creator of many of Ghibli's best known works, Hayao Miyazaki, retired from making feature animated films.

The purported insider told Japanese site News Cafe that Ghibli's latest release, When Marnie Was There, "seems like it will be the last [from Studio Ghibli]". The article appeared on Rakuten, one of Japan's largest web portals. That being said, this is an unconfirmed rumour.

As the insider explained, there was scuttlebutt of the studio's dissolution last year after Miyazaki retired once completing The Wind Rises. Then, this past spring, longtime Ghibli producer and studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki also stepped down from producing films. He is now Ghibli's general manager.

"From here on, it appears as though this won't be a studio that makes new works, but instead, manages its copyrights."

So, Studio Ghibli won't be creating new animated works, but rather, making money off the anime its created so far.

The insider added animated films required tremendous amounts of money, so there is pressure for the films to be successful so Ghibli can cover its costly production expenses as well as, I'd imagine, remain healthy and profitable. By the insider's count, each film apparently needs to make at least ten billion yen (US$100 million) to cover all its production costs as well as, I'd imagine, turn a healthy profit. Even with a relatively small staff, the insider puts Ghibli's annual labour expenses at supposedly two billion yen ($19.7 million). Note: These numbers are unconfirmed.

Last fall, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's largest papers, reported that while other animation studios have shipped jobs overseas to save money, Studio Ghibli had hired more permanent full-time employees in Japan, making the films incredibly expensive to make. Asahi reports that even though The Wind Rises had made 9.23 billion yen ($91 million), the film had apparently yet to turn a profit. The Tale of Princess Kaguya, apparently, cost even more to create.

"The Tale of Princess Kaguya from director Isao Takahata made 5.1 billion yen ($50 million), and for the studio, it was a flop," the source told News Cafe. "There's no choice but to dissolve the studio, because it's unable cross the high hurdle of announcing a new film on an annual basis."

A bright point is that Goro Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki's son, is directing Ghibli's first animated TV series, Ronia the Robber's Daughter. The computer animated series is a co-production, however, with Polygon Pictures and will debut this fall. The dark cloud is that back in 2010, Hayao Miyazaki did mention breaking up the studio.

"Suzuki-san is making a dissolution program for Ghibli," Miyazaki told Cut Magazine (via Bleeding Cool and "No joke, we talked about it the other day. For example, Ghibli should be able to continue with about five staff members as a copyright management company even if we smash the studio. So, Ghibli can say 'We stop film production. Goodbye'. I do not have to be there."

The latest Studio Ghibli film When Marnie Was There was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and recently released in Japan. Let's hope it's not the last Studio Ghibli film.

Kotaku has reached out to Studio Ghibli regarding this latest rumour and will update this story should the studio comment.

マーニーがラスト? ジブリが解散?! [Infoseek]


    Oh. Ok. Thanks for the news...
    *Walks into a room, sound of gunshot*

    In all seriousness, very sad news if it really is the last. Growing up with Ghibli films was a real treat. I enjoy the fact that they don't feel the need to add the tongue-in-cheek self awareness and commit to the vision of each world. It's just a shame that they're seemingly unprofitable. Perhaps a greater push for international audience may help?

    At any rate, I don't think there really has been one that didn't make me cry or emotional in some way (Except perhaps "Tales of Earthsea"). I'd wholeheartedly recommend some of the lesser discussed movies as well like "The Cat Returns" and "Pom Poko" as well.

    Here's hoping for more :)

    Last edited 22/07/14 7:15 am

      The Cat Returns is amazing! I love it so much. A shame it's so short though.

    Didn't Miyazaki actually said (as it was expected) that he wasn't done making movies, after all?

      I think that was his first retirement. This is his second. Or third. I don't remember.

      He might actually done this time. His son Goro was supposed to take over, but he made Tales From Earthsea and it was... not great. I think he's redeemed himself since then, but I don't remember the movie off the top of my head.

    As sad as it is for it to come to an end, its still an amazing globally known legacy to leave behind.
    Time to wait for a Ghibli 'prestige' complete collection now

    Am currently writing a master's thesis on Ghibli & have found nothing in recent research to confirm that they will stop making feature films.
    They have confirmed that they will be further branching out in their productions, doing more collaborative works as well as non-anime stuff (hinting at working on more video games or mobile phone apps) but they have at least 3 features in pre-production & production stages now (including the sequel to Porco Rosso, written by Miyazaki himself) so doubtful they'll drop feature productions unless something really dire happens in the industry. The most likely thing is reduce feature productions in favour of quicker turn over works (such as a long rumoured Nausicaa series based closer on the original manga).

    Sometimes I really don't understand the writers here at Kotaku, "Studio Ghibli is best known for iconic anime like My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and Kiki’s Delivery Service."

    Besides Totoro those other two are hardly well known in general, let alone even close to the studios most well known films. Bloody hipster gaming journalists, is it too mainstream to mention Howls Moving Castle or Spirited Away, by far the two most notable releases from Studio Ghibli?


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