Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation company behind hits like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away? If so, you’ll want to give HBO Max a look. Warner Bros. has just secured the American streaming rights to Studio Ghibli’s complete feature film library for HBO Max, its upcoming streaming service, according to an announcement that first appeared on Deadline.
Studio Ghibli’s eclectic collection of animated films, the bulk of which were directed by Ghibli co-founder and animation icon Hayao Miyazaki, is a major get for HBO Max, which faces serious competition from Netflix, the upcoming Disney+, Hulu, NBC’s Peacock, Apple TV+, and others. While Ghibli’s output is phenomenally popular with kids and adults alike — 2003’s Spirited Away even won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film — none of its films have ever been available on traditional streaming services.
In fact, just two days before the HBO Max deal was announced, the company that distributes Studio Ghibli’s output in North America told Polygon that Ghibli would never make its films available to stream, saying that Ghibli prefers “for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting.”
Clearly, that wasn’t the case, as both Kevin Reilly, HBO Max’s chief content officer, and Studio Ghibli chairman Koji Hoshino seem extremely positive about the deal. “These wonderful films have captured people’s hearts around the world, and we are proud to showcase them in an accessible way for even more fans through HBO Max,” Reilly said.
“As a premium content brand, HBO Max is an ideal home for our films,” Hoshino added.
All 21 of Studio Ghibli’s feature films will eventually make their way to HBO Max, including The Wind Rises, which debuts on the service in fall 2020. Most of them should be available on HBO Max at launch. HBO Max arrives in spring 2020, with rumors suggesting it’ll cost between $16 and $17 a month.
In addition to the Ghibli films, HBO Max will be the only place where fans can view the classic ’90s sitcom Friends, Doctor Who, and the Big Bang Theory, as well as original programming from creators like J.J. Abrams and Reese Witherspoon. Content from HBO and WarnerMedia cable networks like TNT, TBS, and The CW are also expected to be available on the service.
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