Considering there’s now approximately 70 billion streaming services, I think not knowing about them is the thing I would like to most share in common with Hayao Miyazaki right now, instead of the, you know, incredible artistic and storytelling talent.
After years of refusal, Studio Ghibli made waves in recent months when it announced the lifting of a long-assumed ban on putting its legendary catalogue of animated movies on streaming platforms.
In the U.S., a landmark deal with Warner Bros. secured the Ghibli catalogue for its upcoming HBO Max platform, while globally outside of the U.S. and Japan, the last month has seen Netflix roll out a similar offering, bringing iconic films like Porco Rosso, My Neighbour Totoro, and Spirited Away to streaming or on digital storefronts for the very first time. But why now?
The answer, apparently, was rather simple: money.
Crunchyroll reports that, speaking to an audience at an event promoting a new book about Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum, The Story of Ghibli Museum, former Studio Ghibli president and current producer Toshio Suzuki revealed that Ghibli’s primary reason for finally relenting on allowing its catalogue to be streamed online was to “make money for film production,” adding that “Hayao Miyazaki is currently making a movie, but that takes a lot of time. And, of course, money.” By finally lifting the apparent ban, Ghibli can better secure its future.
Speaking of Miyazaki, however, Ghibli’s executives needed to approach the legendary director and receive his blessing to actually begin movement on these deals—a task made easier, according to Suzuki, by the fact Miyazaki doesn’t actually know what these platforms really are. “Miyazaki doesn’t know what streaming services are,” Suzuki told the audience. “He doesn’t use computers or smartphones.”
Meanwhile, Suzuki believes that original content on these platforms is the future for moviemaking, and could potentially be interested in exploring that potential at the studio. “It’s more likely that new films will be created for Netflix’s service,” Suzuki continued. “As a film creator, even though I think that cinemas and DVD’s are important [for a film release], I also think that [digital distribution] is important.”
Could we one day see a Ghibli film made exclusively for a streaming platform, whether it’s Netflix or someone else? Maybe, one day. Hopefully Miyazaki will have at least been told what they actually are by that point.