“I don’t know and I would like to correct that,” was John Lasseter’s response when asked by the Wall Street Journal why Studio Ghibli films don’t perform well in the United States. “I ask that same question all the time…They’re beautiful on the big screen.” Next week, Lasseter and Disney will make their most ambitious attempt to popularize Ghibli’s films stateside when they open the English-language version of The Secret World of Arrietty on 1,200 screens.
The WSJ Journal article about the film, which can be read here (but might be behind a paywall), describes Disney’s challenge of building buzz for the film without any merchandising rights. They are hoping that Arrietty finds a broader audience than the typical Ghibli film since it’s based on Mary Norton’s children’s classic The Borrowers. It’ll be interesting to watch how the film performs in the US. This is a relatively wide release for an indie/foreign animated film, and when Disney feels that they can make money from a more diverse palate of animated films, other film distributors will likely follow suit.