Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli’s general manager, took to Japanese television today to announce a “brief pause” for their animation feature film department amid rumors of a closure.
Update: A better translation of Suzuki’s comments have been published by AnimeNewsNetwork (via /Film) and offer a little more detail on their current plans. “On what to do with Studio Ghibli’s future, it is by no means impossible to keep producing [movies] forever,” he said. “However, we will take a brief pause to consider where to go from here.”
A previous version of this article based on a different translation indicated that the studio was closing for good.
Rumours of the Japanese animation studio’s closure have been circling the internet for the last couple of years, but a report from a Ghibli insider to Japanese website News Café made it appear as though that closure would be imminent. This rumour has now been confirmed by the general manager of the studio.
Studio Ghibli has been responsible for many beloved animated movies, not limited to Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle. But they made no secret about the fact that in recent years they have been struggling financially, with their most recent movies failing to make a profit for the studio. The Tale of Princess Kaguya, released in 2013, made 5.1 billion yen, and was considered a flop by the studio due to the costs of the production.
Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, retired last summer and handed the reins over to Toshio Suzuki — the latter gave up producing films to become the general manager.
The studio will now move on to managing their trademarks and copyrights, with a smaller staff, but will reportedly be keeping the option open to freelance out for any new, viable projects — as they used to prior to Porco Rosso. The full-time staff responsible for producing their feature films will presumably be let go.
When Marnie Was There, their latest film, is based on the novel of the same name by Joan G. Robinson. The plot follows a sickly girl called Anna as she strikes up a friendship with the mysterious Marnie, while she recuperates at a seaside town. It was released on July 19 in Japan. There is no word yet on a U.S. release date.
Thanks to Catsuka for the news, and translation.