Acclaimed Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli may be shutting down its production arm to focus on existing property management and freelance work.
The studio, whose works include Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle, were rumored to be considering a restructuring for some time after their model of traditional animation struggled to find profits with recent releases.
Studio general manager Toshio Suzuki announced the considerations via Japanese television, according to Deadline, Kotaku, and other sources.
Due to the difficulty of Japanese translation, Acta Dinerda will update with official comments from Ghibli once they have been released.
The news of Ghibli’s possible shuttering may have been spurred by the retirement of legendary director and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki last year, known for his work ethic and insistence on traditional animation practices.
The animation process at Ghibli, while critically renowned, required an expensive full-time staff. Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises, has been reported to have not yet returned a profit. The Story of Princess Kaguya, also released in 2013, was considered a financial flop.
Under their possible restructuring, Ghibli’s final film will be When Marnie Was There. The studio would still be available for freelance commission, and would operate management of their current copyrights and licenses.
It is possible that, after some time, Ghibli could resume its anime feature film production, but Suzuki’s comments seemed to convey that the current practice of annual releases would not be possible. Ghibli has not made an official comment on their decision outside of the initial Suzuki interview.
Studio Ghibli, which began in 1985, has become one of the most beloved animation studios of the past 30 years. It has received three Academy Award nominations, including a win in Best Animated Feature Film for 2001’s Spirited Away. Miyazaki has become known as “the Walt Disney of Japan.” Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter has often cited Ghibli as an influence on Pixar’s works.