Studio Ghibli's official blog has also reported yesterday that Hayao Miyazaki is in the planning stages for the next two films, which will follow Takahata in 2011 and 2013. There is no word yet on details, so I feel no need to gossip or speculate. It's common for the studio to plan several years in advance, even though they are notoriously secretive and play their cards close to their chest.
Currently, Studio Ghibli is devoted to two main projects: Isao Takahata's newest movie, and the Nintendo DS fantasy game Another World. Usually once a feature film is completed, the pre-production work on the next has begun, and everyone switches gears to the new project after a short break. I'd expect Miyazaki to be working and sketching out ideas right now, and be ready to go by summer.
The interesting news is that Miyazaki is attached to the next two features. Ghibli has always rotated directors, and this is important because of the tight production schedules. This hasn't always been the case - Kiki's Delivery Service followed My Neighbor Totoro by one year - so anything is possible.
One possibility is that Miyazaki will direct the next two features. Another possibility is that he will direct one, and produce the other, handing the second movie to the younger staff and another director. This has been the case with I Can Hear the Sea and The Cat Returns and Ghiblies Episode 2. So that's a possibility.
The third option, as always, is Goro Miyazaki, and he remains the studio's wildcard. I have the impression that he is being properly groomed and educated; that despite any public declarations, the son is the studio's heir apparant. It is critical that he establish himself if Ghibli is to secure a long-term future. And Goro-san has burnt many bridges with his controversial Gedo Senki.
His recent work at the studio shows me that he's being taken through film school, that he's learning the crucial skills and developing his own voice. Father Miyazaki briefly mentioned his son while in California in July, and insisted that Goro-san's responsibilities are now as a father to his growing family. I had the impression of the father taking control of the situation, regardless of their personal differences. I trust Hayao Miyazaki to know what to do, and he understands what is at stake. Goro-san gets one more crack at the bat; if he loses the public on his sophmore effort, he won't earn another.
But this is how great art is born. It's how Nausicaa was brought to the big screen, and it transformed Father Miyazaki's career and brought us here. Every great artist must be tested by fire.
Anyway, I'm only thinking out loud. Nobody knows any specific insights into Ghibli's future plans for the next three years. The only thing that is certain is that Hayao Miyazaki will continue to be the studio's driving force. He will be working and painting and scheming until the day he dies.