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Studio Ghibli Catalogue Will Stream On HBO MAX

Studio Ghibli is a company that has always cherished the theatrical experience. Despite the fact that the majority of its western fans fell in love with their films on home video, they've always maintained that they're best experienced on the big screen as they were meant to be seen. This explains why their films have not been available digitally- neither to buy or on streaming services.

All of which makes it all the more surprising that GKIDS Films, the custodians of the Ghibli library in North America have announced that they have signed a deal with WarnerMedia to bring Ghibli's catalogue to the upcoming streaming service HBO Max. This is the first deal signed for their titles anywhere in the world.

The deal covers all 21 features in the Ghibli library (including Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind, which pre-dates Ghibli but was released under their banner). There's some question over Grave Of The Fireflies, whose US home rights are held by Sentai Filmworks (with GKIDS have theatrical). Potentially the 21 figure given could instead include Ocean Waves, Ghibli's only made-for-TV movie.

The deal is only for the United States, at least for now. Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya are confirmed to be available when HBO Max launches in the US in Spring 2020.  The Wind Rises is listed as coming "fall 2020".

The news will come as even more of a surprise if you read reports published on numerous other sites earlier this week that "Studio Ghibli films may NEVER come to streaming". According to GKIDS, this was all based on a statement from last year.

This is good news for US based fans who don't do physical media, or don't live anywhere near a cinema taking part in Ghibli Fest. It also opens the possibility of similar deals being struck by the rights-holders in other countries (for example the UK, where Studio Canal have the rights to the movies). HBO Max is planning on international expansion in the future, so the deal could be extended in future.

It marks a change in attitude for the management at Ghibli. Could we also see the films released digitally? Could Ghibli's closely guarded museum shorts even come to streaming? Never say never!

[source: GKIDS]