It seems impossible to think that one of the world’s most beloved animation studios might shut its doors and stop making films, but that’s what one Japanese news site says might happen to Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary Studio Ghibli.
According to News Cafe, Ghibli’s newest film, "When Marnie Was There," might be its last. As a supposed insider tells the website, whispers of the studio’s closing have circulated since last year, when powerhouse writer-director Miyazaki (of "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" fame) announced he was retiring and Ghibli producer/co-founder Toshio Suzuki stepped down from producing and became the studio’s general manager instead.
"From here on," the source says, "it appears as though this won’t be a studio that makes new works, but instead, manages its copyrights." In essence, that would mean that the studio would stop producing new films and simply generate revenue from its library of previous creations. In 2010, Miyazaki acknowledged that there was a potential future for the studio in such a form, telling Cut Magazine, "Ghibli should be able to continue with about five staff members as a copyright management company even if we smash the studio. So, Ghibli can say ‘We stop film production. Goodbye.’ I do not have to be there."
According to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Ghibli has declined to follow other animation studios in sending jobs overseas, and as such, their films have become increasingly expensive to make. According to the paper, Miyazaki’s last film, 2013’s "The Wind Rises" has yet to turn a profit, even though it has made over $90 million. Ghibli’s most recent film, "The Tale of Princess Kaguya," made $50 million, and was considered a flop by the studio, according to Asahi and New Cafe‘s insider. "There’s no choice but to dissolve the studio, because it’s unable cross the high hurdle of announcing a new film on an annual basis."
"When Marnie Was There," a ghost tale adapted from the book by Joan Robinson, got its first trailer earlier this month, and it promises the lush, thoughtful artistry of all Ghibli films. Let’s hope it’s not the studio’s last.