Yesterday, there were a flurry of reports that the beloved Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli was shutting down. For those unfamiliar with the studio, it was founded in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) and producer Toshio Suzuki (The Wind Rises). In addition to producing all of Miyazaki’s classic films since 1986’s Castle in the Sky, the studio has also played host to a collection of other talented filmmakers. It’s no surprise that the studio’s closing was met with an outpouring of grief.
However, Ghibli isn’t closed just yet. That being said, it’s no longer going to remain in its current form. Hit the jump for more.
As Russ at /Film astutely picked up yesterday, the news of Ghibli’s closing was widespread, but no Japanese publication had actually made that report. It came from a poorly translated quote.
Variety reports that on a documentary broadcast by TBS network on its “Jonetsu Tairiku” program on Sunday evening, Suzuki said that there would be “big changes”, and there would be a hiatus in production to assess the studio’s future. As Variety notes, these short breaks “are common in the Japanese animation business, in which companies hire animators on a per-project basis and dissolve the production teams, save for a few key staff, when the project is completed.” Ghibli has actually been going against the grain by keeping a large, full-time staff on board.
So why is Studio Ghibli restructuring? Variety speculates that it’s because the studio’s golden goose, Miyazaki, has retired. His films would routinely make over $100 million, and his final feature The Wind Rises, made over $120 million. By comparison, the studio’s latest film (and the last one they’ll do before they restructure), Hiromasa Yonebayashi‘s When Marnie Was There, is expected to only make $36 million.
If the restructuring succeeds, Suzuki says it “would be possible for us to keep making films in definitely.” While Ghibli will now be organized like a traditional Japanese animation studio, I’m glad their valuable contributions to worldwide animation will continue.