Looking to stream an animated movie this week on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or any other platform? Don’t expect “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” or “Princess Mononoke” to be options — not this week nor ever. The iconic Japanese animation producer Studio Ghibli has never licensed its movies out to streaming platforms (not even Apple Movies) and according to Polygon has no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.
GKids owns the North American distribution rights to Studio Ghibli movies, which include the masterworks of director Hayao Miyazaki, and recently told Polygon not to expect Ghibli classics like “Totoro” and the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away” to show up on Netflix and other streaming services. In a move that would certainly earn Christopher Nolan’s respect, Ghibli maintains the theatrical experience is so important to watching its movies that it’s not worth having them available to stream.
“Studio Ghibli does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world,” a GKids representative told Polygon. “They continue to believe that presentation is vital and particularly appreciate opportunities for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting.”
GKids ensures Studio Ghibli films are available on the big screen regularly throughout the year with its Studio Ghibli Fest. In 2019, GKids has brought “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” and “The Secret World of Arrietty” to theaters nationwide for screenings presented by Fathom Events. “Spirited Away” will be hitting theaters October 27-30, followed by “Princess Mononoke” November 17-20, and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” December 16-18 (head over to Fathom’s website for more info). Aside from theatrical re-releases, the only other place to watch Studio Ghibli movies are via home video.
Studio Ghibli reopened its doors in August 2017 to begin production on Miyazaki’s upcoming new feature, his first since the 2013 theatrical release of “The Wind Rises.” The project is titled “How Do I Live?” and is based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 book of the same name. The story follows the coming-of-age experience of a 15-year-old-boy who must overcome poverty and spiritual setbacks. No release date for “How Do I Live?” has been set, although there has been word that Studio Ghibli wants to time the movie to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.