The Borrower Arrietty Blu-Ray and Ghibli's Future

How fast is this?  The Borrower Arrietty is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray in France this coming July.  I still haven't heard a word about any theatrical release.  Hmm...this is unexpected.  On the upside, this announcement means the Japanese DVD/BD will likely arrive in the summer.  On the downside, it may just skip theaters in the West altogether and head straight to home video.

I am concerned that Disney or Pixar have made no announcements about Arrietty in the USA.  Usually, we would have early press by now.  We would know the names of cast members, and have a general idea of a late summer release.  So far, only silence.  This doesn't sound good.  Studio Ghibli is moving firmly into its post-Miyazaki era, and we need to know if Disney intends to continue their relationship.

Ultimately, the Disney suits may decide that their relationship was with Hayao Miyazaki, not his movie studio.  They were only really intersted in Totoro and Kiki and maybe anything created in the future that fit into their market.  But Ghibli was in a very strong position, being courted by all the major Hollywood studios, and they could afford to dictate terms.  But Miyazaki is now in the process of passing the torch to the next generation, and the terms of the old agreement may no longer apply.

Of course, I don't know the answers one way or another.  And readers will gently needle me for being impatient and cranky with Disney.  That may be true.  This will be a period of uncertaintly, and no firm committments will be made by any parties.  Heck, Ghibli has yet to decide whether to continue after Miyazaki, or shut down completely.  Thank God Arrietty was a blockbuster smash hit in Japan.  The studio needs a couple home runs to secure its future...and now Goro is up next.

This is where the business side of things start to become real interesting.  Ghibli's fate may be decided in these next 12 months.  And we're going to get another Ghibli Blu-Ray in six months.


bmartilo said...

As anxious as I am to see it, I would gladly wait longer on the DVD/Blu-Ray of Arrietty if it means a theatrical release in the US, but I share your concern. I think the ace-in-the-hole though is John Lasseter...I find it hard to believe that he'd let the suits at Disney stiff-arm Ghibli. Keeping my fingers crossed!...

Heinz said...

In France 'The Borrower Arrietty' will have a theatrical release on January 12. Look at this links: Une bande annonce pour Arrietty! and Arrietty, la bande annonce française (le nouveau Ghibli)

Daniel said...

I share your frustration, as I'm sure you've begun to notice, my patience with Disney's enthusiasm for Ghibli (without Lasseter) is wearing thin. Even though Disney don't release the films to the whole western world, the existence of a dub usually determines things like theatrical releases.

Disney have their names in front of every Ghibli picture, in Japanese and English. Why bother putting their names to quality work like that when the only home releases we're ever hassled with are dreck like Dogs in Space or other Disney-Channel quality movies.

In hindsight, I feel Disney screwed Ghibli over slightly with certain terms of the deal. Suzuki finally chose Disney because they agreed to take all of the studio's titles, with no cuts. It says it all that titles like Ocean Waves and Only Yesterday haven't had releases yet. They likely never will. Disney have the cuddly Ghibli films but the others just won't rake in enough dough.

France sharing the DVD/BD release with Japan is likely due to the French production company Wild Bunch funding the production, a first. Though of course, there's the more sizable and regular funding of Disney that holds no joint releases. The truth, I suspect, is that Ghibli welcomes international distribution, just look at the fuss of Miyazaki travelling to the US when Spirited Away and Ponyo got released. It's clear they care, but Disney doesn't find it financially justifiable to trumpet too loud.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@heinz: Thanks a lot! I couldn't find any release dates for Arrietty in theaters, so I wasn't sure. France is such a strong Ghibli supporter, so this is good news.

As far as Disney goes, I think they are doing a pretty good job right now. I wanted to write a post listing all the reasons why we should be thankful and happy, and I'll probably still have to do that this weekend.

For example, tonight I picked up the Ponyo Blu-Ray and the Totoro DVD. Last week, I grabbed the Kiki DVD. These are all excellent releases. The cover designs are wonderful, shiny, embossed. They finally have a unified style for the Studio Ghibli movies. Compared to just five years ago, this is a bounty of riches.

I think what I was trying to suggest by the end of my post is that Disney may be taking a wait-and-see approach to Ghibli. This is where sales numbers of the DVDs would be extremely helpful.

Keenan said...

I don't know if you have covered this yet or not, but Madman has picked up Arrietty for an Australian theatrical release:

Anonymous said...

I too share the concern about Disney...

However, like you just said, they have really done a great job with re-releasing previous titles with a unified stylistic covers! It could be a sign that they are very interested in Ghibli still, as this move could also be interpurted as "revival".

So I am going to remain hopeful that we continue to get more and more titles!

Nick said...

This tweet (!/LeDoctor/status/23581025426735105) from Frank Marshall suggests that Disney is currently recording an English language dub.

I managed to see The Borrower Arietty while I was in Japan this summer. It wasn't on the level of Miyazaki's work, but it was a nice little film. Lovely visuals and a very nice use of sound that conveyed how gigantic everyday sounds would be to the borrowers.

I'd definitely see it again in English, if only so I can understand more than 10% of the dialogue!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Thanks for the link to the Twitter page. I hadn't thought of checking Frank Marshall for any updates. It's very encouraging if Disney is continuing to use him to promote Ghibli's movies in the US.

One way or another, I'm sure we will hear something about Arrietty in the States in the coming weeks. If a theatrical release is planned, it would likely be in August.

Konqi said...

Optimum has stated a Summer theatrical release for the UK.

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