It’s not quite the day-and-date drop that Warner Bros. is doing for its entire theatrical slate this year, but next month you’ll be able to see beloved animation house Studio Ghibli’s first feature-length CG movie from the comfort of your own home just days after it hits theatres. If you’ve got HBO Max, that is.
GKids confirmed today that Goro Miyazaki’s Earwig and the Witch will hit U.S. theatres on February 3, in a limited run of its English-dub and subtitled versions with Fathom Events. But the distributor also confirmed that just two days later, on February 5, the film will be made available for streaming on HBO Max — the current U.S. streaming home for every title in the Studio Ghibli back catalogue — at no extra cost.
It’s a move that makes sense, given the current state of the movie theatre industry and the coronavirus pandemic that has thrown movie distribution into a tailspin for the last 10 months (and many more months to come). GKids had previously pivoted to small theatrical runs where it could and simultaneous releases on digital for movies like Lupin III: The First last year — so doing something similar for Earwig, especially with Warner’s deal for the Ghibli streaming catalogue, makes sense.
How the film will be distributed digitally outside of the U.S., where HBO Max isn’t available, remains to be seen. But at this point in the coronavirus pandemic, we probably shouldn’t be too surprised to hear more announcements like this for the foreseeable future.
Editor’s Note: Earwig and the Witch is currently set for release in Australian theatres in early 2021, but an exact date is yet to be finalised.