Harvey Weinstein was notorious for cutting films behind his directors’ backs, but one filmmaker Weinstein apparently couldn’t touch was Hayao Miyazaki. Disney made a deal in 1996 with Miyazaki’s animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli to release English-language dubs of its films in the United States, and Weinstein’s Disney subsidiary Miramax was tasked with the release of Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.” Weinstein’s reputation preceded him so strongly that Miyazaki’s producer sent the studio executive a samurai sword with a note that read “No cuts” attached to the blade. It turns out the warning wasn’t enough to prevent a Weinstein attack.
In his upcoming memoir “Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli” (via Cartoon Brew), former Studio Ghibli executive Steve Alpert reveals that Weinstein went berserk on him when Miyazaki refused to listen to Weinstein’s request to cut the “Princess Mononoke” runtime from 135 minutes to 90 minutes. Alpert writes that Weinstein flew into a rage and threatened him by saying, “If you don’t get [Miyazaki] to cut the fucking film you will never work in this fucking industry again! Do you fucking understand me? Never!”
Miyazaki retained final cut privileges over his movies as part of the Disney-Ghibli deal, so Weinstein could not be his usual “Harvey Scissorhands” self and cut “Princess Mononoke” on his own accord. The filmmaker told The Guardian in 2010 that Weinstein “bombarded” him with “aggressive attacks” to cut the film. Miyazaki added, “I defeated him.” Alpert’s book is the first time it’s been reported that Weinstein also attacked other Ghibli executives over the “Mononoke” runtime. Alpert ran Ghibli’s international division between 1996 and 2011.
Ghibli was adamant about Disney not making changes to its films for their U.S. releases. The one time such changes were made was with the release of Miyazaki’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Alpert writes in the book that Disney added music and sound effects to the U.S. theatrical release, and when he notified a Disney executive about these add-ons the executive went to the producer in charge of the U.S. release and gave him “the kind of verbal lashing that makes grown men cry.” In other words, don’t touch Miyazaki’s movies.
Miyazaki is currently at work on his next feature film. Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault. Alpert’s memoir “Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli” is now available for preorder and will be released June 16 through Stone Bridge Press.