21 Studio Ghibli films will be spirited away for streaming on HBO Max
The deal is a first for the Japanese anime company behind Hayao Miyazaki classics such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Good news for Hayao Miyazaki fans – at least for those who happen to have an HBO subscription in the US.
Starting next year, the forthcoming streaming service HBO Max will be screening 21 Studio Ghibli anime movies, including all the favourites from Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke to My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle.
This is the first time a streaming provider has obtained rights to the Japanese studio’s films, which haven’t been available to watch or download online legally.
The catch though is that it’s only for the North American market, but it marks a big step given how Studio Ghibli has been very protective of its properties for the longest time.
A representative told Polygon earlier this year that it “does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world… They continue to believe that presentation is vital and particularly appreciate opportunities for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting.”
But the news, which was announced earlier this week, is a big win for everyone – except Disney, whom everyone assumed would get the rights given their long-standing relationship.
Not all the movies will be available though – 1988’s heartbreaking Grave Of The Fireflies isn’t part of the deal because it was done by previous parent company Tokuma Shoten for another company.
Aside from these movies, HBO Max will offer more than a dozen original shows and movies from stars including Reese Witherspoon and Anna Kendrick, as it prepares to go head-to-head with rival services from Netflix, Walt Disney and Apple.
Slated to launch in the spring of 2020, HBO Max will also have programmes from AT&T-owned networks such as HBO and TBS and classics from the Warner Bros film and TV library.
Earlier this year, WarnerMedia said US reruns of the popular television sitcom Friends will move in 2020 from Netflix to HBO Max.