‘Earwig and the Witch’ Bows on Digital in March, Blu-ray Disc and DVD in April

Studio Ghibli has announced the March 23 release of Earwig and the Witch, a Japanese 3DCGG animated feature directed by Goro Miyazaki (From Up on Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea) and produced by studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki.

The film will first be available on digital platforms. On April 6 consumers can buy the film in a limited edition Steelbook and a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from from GKIDS, with distribution from Shout! Factory.

Based on the children’s novel Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones, the film follows the story of a little girl named Earwig who is growing up in an orphanage in the British countryside. Her life is changed dramatically when a strange couple takes her in, and she is forced to live with a selfish witch. Having no idea her birth mother had magical powers, she sets out to uncover the secrets of her new guardians and, in the process, discovers a world of spells, potions, and a mysterious song that may be the key to finding the family she has always wanted.

Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, a documentary on the creating the film, interviews with the Japanese voice cast, teasers and trailers.

An official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Earwig and the Witch saw its premier in Japan on December 30, 2020 and is scheduled for release in theaters beginning Feb. 3.

Two Acclaimed Anime Films Get Steelbook Treatment in October from Shout! Factory

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, in October will re-release My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Princess Mononoke (1997), two Japanese animated films from Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki.

The films will be available Oct. 20 in a limited-edition Steelbook that includes a Blu-ray Disc and DVD combo pack, along with hours of bonus features and a booklet with art and statements from the filmmakers.

My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of a professor and his two young daughters, Satsuki and Mei, who move into a new home in the countryside, only to find life is not as simple there as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children.

Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, theatrical trailers, “Behind the Microphone”; textless opening and end credits; the featurettes “Creating My Neighbor Totoro,” “Creating the Characters,” “The Totoro Experience,” and “The Locations of My Neighbor Totoro”; a making-of featurette, “Producer’s Perspective: Creating Ghibli”; and an eight-page booklet with statements from the producer and director.

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Set in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) in Japan, Princess Mononoke follows young warrior Ashitaka as he heads west in search of a cure for a deadly curse he’s been inflicted with. He stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi, the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmatic Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home and the forest spirits that live there.

Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, theatrical trailers, TV spots, a “Behind the Microphone” featurette; and an eight-page booklet with statements from the producer and director.

Shout! Factory to Re-release 2013 Japananese Drama ‘The Wind Rises’

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, in September will re-release The Wind Rises, a 2013 Japanese animated historical drama film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

The film will first be available for digital download and on demand Sept. 1, with the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and standalone DVD version coming Sept. 22.

A fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter and A6M Zero aircraft, the film begins when he moves to Tokyo in 1923 to fulfill his dream of becoming a highly accomplished airplane designer. He had always been fascinated by aviation but was unable to become a pilot due to a medical condition. As rumors of war escalate, Horikoshi reunites with a young woman he met shortly after his big move. The two fall deeply in love, just as the young woman falls ill with tuberculosis. Horikoshi becomes inspired by visions of Italian aeronaut Caproni, and he realizes he must confront the mounting tragedies with dignity.

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Special features will include an exclusive booklet, a feature-length storyboard, the documentary episode “10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki,” “Behind the Microphone,” a film completion press conference, original theatrical trailers, and more.

The Wind Rises was the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013, and received 13 nominations and 17 awards, including one Academy Award nomination. Hayao Miyazaki won the award for “Writing in an Animated Feature Production” at the 41st Annie Awards, and the film’s musical composer, Joe Hisaishi, was awarded the Japan Academy Prize in the category of Best Music Score.

The Wind Rises was also selected as “Audience Favorite – Animation” at Mill Valley Film Festival.

Shout! Factory Schedules August Home Release for Two Anime Films by Hayao Miyazaki

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, Aug. 25 are re-releasing Kiki’s Delivery Service and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, two animated films from award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, as limited-edition Steelbook Blu-ray Disc and DVD combo packs. The collector’s sets come with hours of bonus features, including a booklet with art and statements from the creators.

Originally adapted from the 1985 novel by Eiko Kadono, Kiki’s Delivery Service is coming-of-age tale of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to discover she has lost her gift of flight after a moment of self-doubt. As she overcomes her problem, the time comes for her to leave home and learn a craft (according to an old witches tradition) and she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji.

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Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, original theatrical trailers, Ursula’s painting, the locations of Kiki’s Delivery Service, an eight-page booklet with statements from the producer and director, and the featurettes “Creating Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Producer’s Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki,” “Flying with Kiki & Beyond” and “Behind the Microphone.”

Based on Miyazaki’s 1982 manga of the same name, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was originally released two years later, in 1984. The Japanese animated epic, science fantasy and adventure film takes place 1,000 years after the Seven Days of Fire destroyed civilization, where warring human factions survive in a world devastated by atmospheric poisons and gigantic insects. The peaceful Valley of the Wind is nestled on the edge of the Toxic Forest and led by the courageous Princess Nausicaä, whose love of all living things leads her into terrible danger, as she fights to restore balance between humans and nature.

Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, the original theatrical trailers and TV spots, audio commentary with Hideaki Anno and Kazuyoshi Katayama, an interview with Toshio Suzuki and Hideaki Anno titled “Nausicaä and Evangelion! The Whereabouts of the Giant Warrior?,” a 12-page booklet with statements from the producer and director, and the featurettes “Behind the Microphone” and “Creating Nausicaä.”

Japanese Animated Classics ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, ‘Ponyo’ Heading Home on Blu-ray Disc, DVD on May 12

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, have set a May 12 home release date for a pair of Japanese animated fantasies, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo.

Both titles will be released as a limited-edition Steelbook Blu-ray Disc and DVD set.

Howl’s Moving Castle grossed $235 million at the global box office, while Ponyo took in $203 million. Both films are from Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki. Howl’s Moving Castle was made with CGI; Ponyo, in contrast, was hand-drawn.

Howl’s Moving Castle features a quiet girl named Sophie who works in a hat shop, who finds her life thrown into a turmoil when she is swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vengeful Witch of the Waste grows jealous of their friendship, and puts a curse on Sophie that turns her into a 90-year-old woman.  As Sophie embarks on a quest to break the spell, she finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens the world.

Animation World Network says Howl’s Moving Castle “is perhaps Miyazaki’s most phantasmagorical film yet, surpassing even Spirited Away in its astonishing imagery and supernatural logic. In the film’s first few minutes, blobby tar baby demons wearing straw hats bubble out from beneath paving stones and retreat en masse into a tiny teapot; a wizard rescues a damsel in distress by taking her for a stroll in mid-air; the eponymous construction, a haphazard heap of cottages, turrets and decrepit machinery, is glimpsed through misty clouds, striding on a quartet of gigantic mechanical bird legs; and a goiter-necked witch transforms a young girl into a wizened old woman.”

Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, TV spots, an interview with Diana Wynne Jones, and mini-documentaries on Miyazaki’s visit to Pixar, CGI, and the creation of the film’s soundtrack. The disc package also comes with an eight-page booklet.

Ponyo follows the story of a young boy who lives on a clifftop overlooking the sea, who discovers more than he bargained for after rescuing a stranded goldfish named Ponyo. A young, curious, and energetic creature, Ponyo yearns to be human. Even as she causes chaos around the house, her father, a powerful sorcerer, schemes to return her to the sea.

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Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, TV spots, and several documentaries: “The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo,” “Press Conference: Theme Song Announcement,” a featurette on the opening event at Hibiya Scala-Za Theatre, an interview with both  Miyazaki and producer (and former Studio Ghibli president) Toshio Suzuki, and more.


Netflix to Stream 21 Studio Ghibli Animation Films — Outside the U.S.

Netflix announced that on Feb. 1, 21 films from Studio Ghibli, the Academy Award-winning Japanese arthouse, will be made available on the service globally (excluding the U.S., Canada and Japan) through distribution partner Wild Bunch International.

For the first time ever, the expansive catalog of Studio Ghibli films will be subtitled in 28 languages, and dubbed in up to 20 languages.

This partnership will enable fans in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America to enjoy classics, such as Academy Award-winner Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Arrietty, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, among others, in their native languages.

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“In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences,” Toshio Suzuki at Studio Ghibli said in a statement. “We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience.”

Aram Yacoubian, director of original animation at Netflix, called the deal “a dream come true” for Netflix subscribers.

“Studio Ghibli’s animated films are legendary and have enthralled fans around the world for over 35 years,” said Yacoubian. “We’re excited to make them available in more languages across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia – so that more people can enjoy this whimsical and wonderful world of animation.”

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The release schedule for Studio Ghibli films on Netflix:

February 1, 2020: Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Only Yesterday (1991), Porco Rosso (1992), Ocean Waves (1993), Tales from Earthsea (2006)

March 1, 2020: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Princess Mononoke (1997), My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), Spirited Away (2001), The Cat Returns (2002), Arrietty (2010), The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)

April 1, 2020: Pom Poko (1994), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), The Wind Rises (2013), When Marnie Was There (2014)

HBO Max Secures Rights to Japan’s Studio Ghibli Movies

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s pending subscription streaming video platform, has acquired first-time streaming rights to Studio Ghibli’s movie catalog. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Japan-based animation studio’s titles include: Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo and Castle in the Sky, among others.

“Studio Ghibli films are visually breathtaking, completely immersive experiences” Kevin Reilly, CCO of HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS, and truTV, said in a statement. “We are proud to showcase them in an accessible way for even more fans through HBO Max.”

The studio’s animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki, have won countless international awards, including an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for Spirited Away, as well as four additional Academy Award nominations for Howl’s Moving CastleThe Wind RisesThe Tale of The Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There.

Director and studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki was separately given an Honorary Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards in 2014, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will pay tribute to his artwork with a special exhibit when the Museum opens in 2020.

Koji Hoshino, chairman of Studio Ghibli, called HBO Max the ideal “home” for its feature film content.

“Upon launch of the service this spring, existing Ghibli fans will be able enjoy their favorites and delve deeper into the library, while whole new audiences will be able to discover our films for the first time,” Hoshino said.


Deluxe ‘Spirited Away’ Blu-ray Collector’s Set Due Nov. 12.

GKIDS and Shout! Factory Nov. 12 will release a limited-edition Blu-ray boxed set of the Studio Ghibli anime feature Spirited Away. The film from director Hayao Miyazaki won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for 2002.

The limited-edition set comes housed in a deluxe slipcase with a new 40-page book with art and essays essays by film critic Kenneth Turan and critic/film historian Leonard Maltin, and statements by Toshio Suzuki and Hayao Miyazaki. The Blu-ray of the film will include hours of special features, and the box will also include the film’s soundtrack on CD.

The film tells the story of Chihiro, whose family is moving to a new house. But when they stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress, Yubaba. Put to work in a magical bathhouse for spirits and demons, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents and return to the normal world.

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The American voice cast includes Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Michael Chiklis, David Ogden Stiers and Susan Egan,

Extras include feature-length storyboards, original theatrical trailers, TV spots and a “Behind the Microphone” featurette.

The set is available for pre-order at ghiblicollection.com.