There was confusion among the animation world over the weekend over the status of Studio Ghibli, the beloved Japanese animation house that produced the Oscar-winner Spirited Away and Hayao Miyazaki’s other works. Now that Miyazaki is retiring and their latest film hasn’t done well in Japan, there are rumors that Ghibli may be shutting down for good.
It appears that the concerns may have been sparked by a Tumblr blog, which posted screenshots from the Japanese program Jounetsu Tairiku’s interview with Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, reports Kokatu. The blogger did not provide translations for the Japanese subtitles that went with Suzuki’s interview and claimed that he had “announced” that it was closing.
However, Kokatu did translate the quotes and it appears that Suzuki is just saying that the studio will be pausing work at the moment to regroup and decide its future.
Deadline notes that there was another report from Japan’s NewsCafe, which included an interview with an unnamed Ghibli source. This person is quoted as saying that the company’s latest film, When Marnie Was There, “seems like it will be the last.” The insider also reportedly said, “From here on, it appears as though this won’t be a studio that makes new works, but instead, manages its copyrights.”
Disney, which handles American distribution of Ghibli’s works, has not commented on the situation. The studio has not picked up Marnie for distribution and the film’s lack of success in Japan might mean that it won’t. The movie only made $3.7 million in two days.
Also at issue is Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises, which was up for the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year, but lost to Frozen. Although the film made $113.4 million in Japan and $5.1 million in the U.S., local media has reported that the film hasn’t turned a profit.