Is a relationship between two animation titans finally coming to a close? It would appear so as Disney announced this week it would cease distributing the Studio Ghibli library in America. What company is this valuable library being handed to?
GKids, a distributor based in New York and mostly known for foreign films. They have now been granted sole ownership of the Ghibli catalog in the US, with the exception of The Wind Rises and Grave of the Fireflies.
Disney was granted exclusive US rights in the mid-90’s. After Ghibli considered offers from Fox and Warner Bros, they chose Disney based on the belief the company would be least likely to alter the material (this had happened in the past; the original English release of Nausicaa was a mess).
The transition has already been taking place over the last several years. Disney appointed GKids to handle theater distribution for Ghibli films in 2011. Earlier this year GKids took over home distribution management as well, and before then, they were given permission to publish Ghibli films in the States that previously went unreleased here, like 1991’s Only Yesterday and 1993’s Ocean Waves. What remains is the formality of Disney owning the US rights themselves — and soon that will cross over as well.
GKids will jump right into their newly appointed task with fresh Blu-Ray releases of My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind this October. Will the dub versions be the same or will GKids commission some new ones? Details such as that have yet to be announced.
Disney will continue distributing the Ghibli library in France and and other European countries.
Discuss on the Toonzone Forums