Over the weekend, rumors emerged that Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli —home to the works of Hayao Miyazaki— would be closing its doors. The scuttlebutt revolved around the studio’s cost prohibitive practice of using inhouse talent in an industry which routinely ships out animation work abroad: Evidently “The Wind Rises,” which has earned $90 million so far, had yet to turn a profit. But not so fast with those rumors! Now that full translations of an interview with Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki that prompted this speculation have arrived, a more nuanced picture about the future of the animation house has emerged.
“I’m sure many of you have heard the rumors that there are about to be big changes to come to every aspect of Studio Ghibli. If you’re wondering what those changes are… we’re thinking of dismantling it once over. It’s some major cleaning up. We’ve been thinking of restructuring or should I say reconstructing for a while now,” Suzuki stated (via Cinemaniax). “Miyazaki’s retirement was definitely a big deal for us. What do we do with Ghibli after that? It certainly wasn’t out of the question that we continue to make movies. Temporarily, we should take a break and think about where we go from here.”
Suziuki’s comments indicate that Studio Ghibli is taking a moment to consider its options in a post-Miyazaki future, but no hard and fast decisions regarding the film production division have been made. And moreover, the company has another movie on the horizon, Hiromasa Yonebayashi‘s “When Marnie Was There.” It seems, by Suzuki’s lights, the film was challenging to develop and produce.
“The entire time I’ve been with Ghibli, when we’re making a movie, I never risked anything,” said Suzuki. “We only did things that we knew worked for certain. We did everything with a ‘frontal attack’. You only become unconventional when you’re in trouble. When you’re in trouble, you start challenging things,” Suzuki said. “With ‘Marnie,’ we had some difficulties. Compared to the Ghibli movies we’ve made up to now, the foundation is different. It’s definitely different from the films that Miyazaki made. Whether it’s a good meaning or a bad meaning, there is a youthfulness to it. Following Miyazaki’s retirement, everything that is Ghibli is being replaced with youth.”
For now, here’s the Japanese trailer for “When Marnie Was There.”