daniel thomas Categories: blu-ray, when marnie was there
Studio Ghibli's 2014 feature film, When Marnie Was There, is coming to Blu-Ray in Japan this March 18. Hiromasa Yonebayashi's second feature as director, he was given complete creative freedom over the production, with no assistance from studio founders Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. The movie is very much in the Ghibli tradition, and promises to become another welcome addition to the canon.
When Marnie Was There was successful at the Japanese box office, but did not achieve the blockbuster success of Yonebayashi's previous effort, 2010's The Borrower Arrietty (clumsily retitled by Disney for the US release as "The Secret World of Arrietty"), which earned over $100 million in Japan, a number cited as a target to ensure the studio's continued future.
It's unfortunate that all the talk over Ghibli's future completely overshadows this movie. Fans are endlessly asking, worriedly, "Is this the final Studio Ghibli movie?" Lost in the conversation is any talk of Marnie itself, and that's kind of the problem, isn't it? There is very little interest in this movie among fans, judging by internet chatter and media coverage, and no official announcements have been made, by Disney or GKids, regarding any US theatrical release
I find it absolutely astonishing that a movie studio capable of so many magnificent films could be forced to close its doors for lack of funds. But Studio Ghibli's budgets are enormous (by Japan's standards), and have been skyrocketing since Miyazaki's 1997 Princess Mononoke ushered in the studio's blockbuster era. Production costs for The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya topped $50 million each, and neither movie has earned a profit. When Hayao Miyazaki cannot make money on a film, with a studio tailored specifically to churn out Miyazaki movies, what chance is there for anybody else? As Mudhoney once intoned, "Made his myth, now he's trapped."
And, once again, we are sidetracked completely from Yonebayashi's artfully made film. When Marnie Was There deserves better than this. I like this young director. I like him a lot. He has a humble, quiet personality, wise and smart and observant. I think he could become a truly great filmmaker, if given the chance. Hopefully, those chances will emerge in the future. I'd hate to think that Studio Ghibli would really close its doors forever, leaving our movie screens are endlessly cluttered with so much animated trash. We all deserve better.