Netflix announced late last night that 21 films from Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli would be coming to the platform, starting in February 2020 and available to stream everywhere worldwide, except for North America and Japan. In case you missed it, HBO Max previously snapped up the rights to stream Studio Ghibli movies in the US back in October. Most of those acquired Studio Ghibli titles will be available for streaming when HBO Max launches in May 2020. Netflix, meanwhile, is planning a steady rollout of Studio Ghibli movies starting in February and continuing in monthly segments; the full rollout schedule can be found here. FYI: HBO Max is free for current HBO subscribers and $15 a month for new subscribers, and instead of using an algorithm to organize content, will rely on human recommendations (more on that here).
The deal points to a continued effort by Netflix to corner the international market, as well as a deliberate attempt on Studio Ghibli’s part to participate in the streaming revolution. The animation studio has been reluctant in the past to sell the streaming rights to its films — its distribution strategy mirroring its old-school approach to everything from its hand-drawn animation to its careful and deliberate production. But a statement from Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki regarding the Netflix deal reflects a change in that approach. “In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences. We’ve listened to our fans and have made the definitive decision to stream our film catalog,” Suzuki said. Whether you live in North America or not, the decision to make Studio Ghibli a bit more accessible is good news for everyone, especially those of us desperately waiting for a ticket to the My Neighbor Tortoro theme park.