Studio Ghibli movies are wondrous affairs, filled with dreamlike animation and imaginative worlds with compelling characters like Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro. But if you haven’t seen a Studio Ghibli movie in the theater, and don’t own any of the DVDs or Blu-rays, you are out of luck. Polygon announces today that the prestigious studio’s films like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away may never be available for streaming. Says Polygon: “According to GKids, which currently owns the North American distribution rights to Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s films, there are no plans to place the collection on Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, or the like. Fans won’t even find titles like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away available to rent on digital platforms like Apple Movies or Amazon.”
Polygon points to prior studio battles that legendary Studio Ghibli animator Hayao Miyazaki has had to endure, grappling with Harvey Weinstein over cuts to Princess Mononoke in 1999, for example. Then Disney, which redubbed and rereleased some Miyazaki classics like the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, “offloaded theatrical and home video distribution rights to GKids in 2017,” and GKids is not interested in making these beloved films available for streaming.
On one hand, the news is disappointing for those of us still clinging to memories of the Studio Ghibli festival at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre in 2017, say. On the other, the news is reason enough to hang onto your DVD player, or, better yet, search out another film festival to get to see this films on the big screen where they rightly belong. Fortunately, Cinemark is currently hosting a Studio Ghibli fest, featuring Spirited Away in October, Princess Mononoke in November, and The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya in December.