GKids acquires 13 Ghibli films; Miyazaki in Lego

In an odd new twist for the Studio Ghibli film library, Daily Variety is reporting that U.S. distributor GKids (The Secret of Kells) has acquired the U.S. theatrical and non-theatrical rights to thirteen Ghibli films – including Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away. Disney will retain the home video rights. Gkids is planning to distribute a series of Miyazaki film festivals to theatres nationwide.

Disney must have felt they no longer needed the theatrical rights. It’ll interesting to see how GKids will fare with these films – that company is certainly emerging as a leader in distributing worthy international animated features.

Meanwhile, I just caught up with these incredible Lego sculptures by Iain Heath. Heath’s tribute to the master animator Hayao Miyazaki was unveiled last year at Seattle’s BrickCon where it received the “Big in Japan – Best Overall” award. Check out his entire Miyazakitopia on Flickr. These two (below) are my favorites:



  • http://animationanomaly.com Charles Kenny

    This is very exciting news.

    I’m sure gKids’ experience with Kells gave them the impetus and courage to pull off a deal like this.

    They’ve been quite good about getting films out into independent cinemas and for releasing stuff that haven’t been shown theatrically for a while.

    I think this will be a great development for animation in general.

    PS. the lego is cool too :)

  • Mike

    Glad to hear a few Studio Ghibli films will be given “new life” in theaters. I really feel like Disney isn’t doing enough with the Ghibli library in North America.

    By the end of this year, 7 Ghibli films will have been released on Blu-ray in Japan: Ponyo, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Whisper of the Heart, Howl’s Moving Castle (11/16), and Tales from Earthsea (11/16).

    I understand there is always a bit of a delay before the Disney edition in North America to prevent reverse importing, but the releases over here are slow as molasses! We’ve only seen Ponyo and Nausicaä in the US, and there is still no word from Disney as to a release date for anything else.

    I hope they haven’t given up on the Ghibli films…

  • Grant Beaudette

    Not sure what this means for Ghibli’s future, but if nothing else it’ll be great to see Princess Mononoke get some actual attention from a US distributor.

  • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com Cory Gross

    Thank God!

    While Disney is to be thanked for bringing what they have over, it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that they pretty much signed their deal to stop anyone else from doing so. They only seem to try theatrical releases when they feel like it and the home video releases have been lackluster at best. It astonishes me that Ghibli has a huge catalogue of documentary and short feature material but the best DVD bonuses that Disney could bother themselves with are storyboards.

    Unfortunately home video is still in Disney’s hands, but let’s hope that changes soon. We need a distributor who is going to take the studio seriously.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      If only for films like “Only Yesterday” to see the light again, but I was told not to hold my breath.

  • http://www.gkids.com Dave @ GKIDS

    Many thanks! I’m really excited to be working with the films, and we’re obviously reverential fans of the studio.

    We’re making brand new prints of dubbed and subtitled versions for just about everything, so the traveling retrospectives should be some of the best these films have looked in years.

    • Nick

      Hooray, new prints!

  • snip2364

    If DISNEY isn’t taking them seriously, what other studio would ever think to do better?! This worries me.

    • http://www.ghiblicon.blogspot.com Daniel Thomas MacInnes

      Disney’s treatment of the Studio Ghibli library isn’t anything to worry about. It’s critical to understand an important fact about the movie business. The conglomerates who own the studios are not in the movie business, they’re in the toy business.

      Disney does not have merchandising rights to the Ghibli films. And Miyazaki-san has no intentions of giving such rights to them. And that, very simply, is why Disney does not devote more attention and resources to these films. It’s not in their business interests to promote one of their rivals. In Japan, the relationship is far more fertile, but that’s because Ghibli has absolute control over their DVD and Blu-Ray releases.

      Truth be told, we’re very lucky that most of Ghibli’s movies are available on DVD at all. If you’re a true Ghibli Freak, then you need to embrace importing. In addition to the feature films that will never be released here – Omohide Poro Poro, Umi ga Kikoeru – there are a number of documentaries like Isao Takahata’s 1987 film, The Story of Yanagawa Waterways , and the 2003 documentary Yasuo Otsuka’s Joy in Motion. And there are a number of “pre-Ghibli” films like Gauche the Cellist, Jarinko Chie, and Panda Kopanda.

      So, yeah, Disney could be far more prolific with home video releases here in the States (especially the Blu-Rays), but that’s not very likely, and with online retailers and the internet, you can find these movies with ease. So you’re going to have to track down these movies on yer own.

      I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what GKids has in store for the Ghibli films. The promise of subtitled and (English) dubbed versions is especially promising.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Whether or not a theater would OK these films to be shown here is still up in the air for me.

        Still pretty sad about there being no merchandising rights though, not that having Totoro plushies at Target would be great but it’s a start.

  • http://www.daganm.blogspot.com Dagan

    The ‘Spirited Away’ lego characters are also
    SO much fun!

    Brought a smile to ma’ face, thanks! :)

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    The Lego figures are great! Does GKids have the rights to
    Arrietty?

  • Grainock

    Please…please get these out on Bluray Disney!