Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio whose anime style films are internationally distributed on Home Entertainment mediums by Disney in a few number of countries, including the United States.
It should be noted that only titles named on this page are distributed by Disney; Ghibli's 2011 film, From Up on Poppy Hill was not distributed in the U.S. by Disney, but rather by GKIDS, which currently now holds U.S. theatrical rights to all of Studio Ghibli's films, even those named below since 2011.
Disney continued to distribute the remaining movies they owned on Home Media until 2017, when the licence expired and GKIDS took over the home media rights from Disney, releasing a full roster of reissues. The only exception to this was The Wind Rises, due to the fact GKIDS classifies it as a “Recent” film. Disney formerly held the French distribution rights to the company’s film library as well, but on September 2, 2020, the rights transitioned to Wild Bunch, Studio Ghibli’s international sales holder.
As of 2020, Disney only handles home video distribution of the company’s films in Taiwan and Japan.
- 1 Disney and Ghibli
- 2 Films distributed to video by Disney
- 3 Films theatrically released with Disney
- 4 Films exclusively released by Disney in Japan, France (until this Sept. 2020), and Taiwan
- 5 Trivia
- 6 External links
Disney and Ghibli
In 1996, Tokuma Shoten, the parent company of Studio Ghibli at the time announced a deal with The Walt Disney Company that would allow Disney to distribute a majority of Studio Ghibli's catalog on VHS in Japan (excluding other Asian territories) through Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan and that Disney had acquired worldwide theatrical distribution rights to their then latest movie Princess Mononoke outside Japan and Asia, as well as Disney being able to distribute a small-number of Tokuma live-action movies outside Asia.
This deal however excluded Ocean Waves due to the the fact it was a television movie, and also excluded Japanese Laserdisc and DVD releases, as those would continue to be released through Tokuma Shoten. The first Ghibli VHS tape released in Japan as part of this new deal would be a reissue of My Neighbor Totoro on June 27, 1997. Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan would eventually reissue the rest of the Studio Ghibli catalogue under their new Ghibli ga Ippai Collection label.
By Late 1998-Early 1999, the deal was expanded to include Ocean Waves, as well as DVD distribution and Taiwanese distribution (through Buena Vista Home Entertainment Taiwan, and later Deltamac).
Beginning with My Neighbors the Yamadas, Disney has invested 10% of the production cost to all future Ghibli movies (Except for Earwig and the Witch, which was funded fully by NHK), which in return allows Disney to acquire the rights to TV, theater, and home video in many countries outside Asia.
In the United States, the first Ghibli film released under the partnership would be Kiki's Delivery Service. It was originally planned for a theatrical release but Disney decided to release it direct-to-video instead due to the high sales of such movies. The movie was released on September 1, 1998 on VHS in the country, and later Laserdisc. The next film to be released was going to be Castle in the Sky in 1999 theatrically, but it was cancelled after Princess Mononoke's bombing in the US box office, mainly due to Disney subsidiary Miramax Films choosing to release it as a limited release instead of a mainstream one.
Worldwide Downgrading and US expansion
In the Mid 2000's, the international sales rights to Studio Ghibli's catalog were sold to German-based company Wild Bunch, who would allow other companies to release the library in the country they traded in. Disney kept held of the French distribution rights to Ghibli's catalog, while they were also kept in the US and Taiwan, as they were separate deals outside Wild Bunch's behalf.
In 2002, Walt Disney Pictures released Spirited Away as a limited theaterical release in the United States, mostly in independent theaters. After the movie won Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards in 2003, Disney released the movie to a more wider audience before it's home video release. By 2005, after Howl's Moving Castle was given a limited release to theaters in the United States, Disney began to release future Ghibli movies to a wider audience.
In 2005 and 2006, Disney released several of Studio Ghibli's movies directly-to-DVD. In July 2009, Walt Disney Pictures released Ponyo and for the first time, a Studio Ghibli movie was given a nationwide release in North America. Walt Disney Pictures would also later give Tales from Earthsea and The Secret World of Arrietty wide releases in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Takeover by GKIDS in USA
In 2011, Disney sold the North American theatrical rights to the Studio Ghibli catalogue to New York based distributor GKIDS as they felt that they no longer needed them. GKIDS has re-released the films in cinemas a numerous amount of times throughout the years, mainly as part of Ghibli Film Festivals.
In 2013, Disney declined to distribute Studio Ghibli’s then recent film, From Up on Poppy Hill in North America (they still distributed the film in Taiwan, France, and Japan home media) and instead sold the film to GKIDS for distribution both theatrically and on home media. This was the first Studio Ghibli Movie since Princess Mononoke not to be released as a Disney product in the country. Disney however distributed The Wind Rises though their Touchstone Pictures Label, Which was the last Studio Ghibli film released through Disney in North America.
Other Studio Ghibli films, like The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie was There, Only Yesterday, and Ocean Waves were also distributed through GKIDS, with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment handling distribution on Home Media.
In 2017, GKIDS fully took over North American distribution of the Studio Ghibli catalog on home media from Disney. The only films from the company's catalog that GKIDS didn't acquire were Grave of the Fireflies (as it’s not directly a Studio Ghibli film in many countries, as the rights to the film remain with the book’s publisher and not Tokuma (GKIDS however have the theatrical rights to this film)), The Red Turtle (as it was released by Sony Pictures Entertainment), and The Wind Rises (As GKIDS claimed that the movie was "still fairly recent" and because Disney still held the exclusive distribution rights at the time, which have since expired).
GKIDS have since re-released all the Studio Ghibli films on DVD and Blu-Ray under their branding, through Shout! Factory. In October 2019, GKIDS announced that they would issue the movies onto WarnerMedia's streaming service HBO Max when the service launched on May 27, 2020, ending a full legacy of Disney's rights to Ghibli movies in North America. Also starting in December 2019, GKIDS began to release their films digitally in both the US and Canada on numerous platforms including Prime Video and Apple TV in both English and original Japanese formats with the minor exception of The Wind Rises which was released on September 1, 2020, a few weeks before GKIDS reissued the movie under their branding on September 22nd.
On September 11, 2020, Wild Bunch, Ghibli's International sales holder and had already held distribution rights to the catalog in Belgium, announced that their partnership with Walt Disney Studios France had expired on September 2nd, and from that day onwards, they would take over distribution of Studio Ghibli's movies in the country, and will later reissue the movies on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2021.
As of 2020, Disney continues to distribute the Studio Ghibli catalog in Taiwan (through Deltamac, who distributes Disney's movies in the region), and Japan, as Walt Disney Studios Japan remains the exclusive Japanese distributor of Ghibli's library on Home Media.
Films distributed to video by Disney
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
- Castle in the Sky (1986)
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
- Porco Rosso (1992)
- Pom Poko (1994)
- Whisper of the Heart (1995)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
- The Cat Returns (2002)
Films theatrically released with Disney
- Princess Mononoke (1997; distributed through Miramax Films)
- Spirited Away (2001)
- Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
- Tales from Earthsea (2006)
- Ponyo (2008)
- The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
- The Wind Rises (2013; distributed through Touchstone Pictures)
Films exclusively released by Disney in Japan, France (until this Sept. 2020), and Taiwan
These Studio Ghibli films were distributed (or in some cases, assisted) by Disney outside North America.
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988, Japanese DVD and Blu-Ray releases only, released by Sentai Filmworks in North America)
- Only Yesterday (1991, released by GKIDS in North America)
- Ocean Waves (1993, Japanese DVD and Blu-Ray releases only, released by GKIDS in North America)
- From Up on Poppy Hill (2011, Credited as Walt Disney Japan, released by GKIDS in North America)
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013, Credited as Walt Disney Japan, released by GKIDS in North America)
- When Marnie was There (2014, Credited as Walt Disney Japan, released by GKIDS in North America)
- The Red Turtle (2016, Japanese DVD and Blu-Ray releases only, copyrighted as Walt Disney Japan. released by Wild Bunch in France and Sony Pictures Classics in North America)
- One of the studios' characters, Totoro, from My Neighbor Totoro, made a cameo in Toy Story 3 as a plush toy.
- Despite the English dub version of Princess Mononoke being distributed by Miramax Films (which was owned by Disney at the time it came out), it was not one of the films that was sold alongside the Miramax library, as Disney still retains Home Entertainment rights of the film due to Disney holding rights to the 16 Ghibli films they distributed.
- The TV movie Ocean Waves was also part of the Disney deal, but Disney never released the film onto DVD and it was eventually released in North America by GKIDS in December 2016 but was never given an English dub.
- Pixar's luca pays homage to Porco Rosso. One example is the riviera town being called Portorosso, named after the movie.