Studio Ghibli Feature Film Blu-Rays
As of January, 2012, these are Studio Ghibli's Blu-Ray releases in Japan. We're currently at eight feature films - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Castle in the Sky, Mimi wo Sumaseba, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Howl's Moving Castle, Gedo Senki (Tales From Earthsea), Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, and Arrietty. The next round of BD releases have not yet been announced, but if tradition holds, then From Up on Poppy Hill should arrive in late summer.
It's fascinating to observe how closely Ghibli holds their strongest cards close to their chest. Their biggest films - My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away - are probably coming sooner rather than later, as the studio is locked in production of Hayao Miyazaki's next feature film (by all accounts very long and complicated, and NOT a Porco Rosso sequel). At least, that's my guess. I'll bet money that one of these three films arrives on Blu-Ray in 2012.
Personally, I'm hoping that Ghibli continues its current pace of releasing four BD films per year (at Summer and Christmas), and maybe accelerated a little. I know, I'm impatient and want all the Hannukah presents now now now. But I also feel that Blu-Ray isn't going to have as long a lifespan as DVD or VHS. As Terence McKenna would say, history repeats at faster and faster cycles. Already we are seeing the emergence of the first televisions for 4K resolution (meaning, 4,000 vertical lines of resolution, compared to BD's 1,080 lines). More importantly, online digital distribution is galloping ever forward and will begin to devour into the "physical media" market. Studio Ghibli cannot casually assume another decade for the Blu-Ray, 1080p format.
Anyway, that's my theory at the moment. Please don't consider it anything more than that.
Which brings us to Disney. Look at those movies above. Studio Ghibli has eight feature films on Blu-Ray in Japan. How many are available in the United States? Two - Nausicaa and Ponyo. Presumably, Arrietty arrives on BD later this year, so that makes three. By that time, Japan will have added Poppy Hill and be up to nine.
The UK, Europe and Australia all manage to release their Ghibli BD's only a few months after Japan. What is the problem here, Disney? Is it because you can't sell stuffed Totoros or dump No-Face into the Ice Capades or turn Nausicaa into one of your Stepford Wives Fairy Tale Princesses? Is it because these Blu-Rays and DVDs don't sell enough? Is you still mad about Mononoke? I know, I know, the Weinsteins were only suggesting they be allowed to make a few cuts into the picture...and then Miyazaki dumps a samurai sword in your mailbox. With an inscription that read, "No cuts."
I really don't get this. Disney and Ghibli have had a successful working relationship since 1997. The rest of the world is able to see these movies, so why not us? What's the hold up? What's the plan?