Uh-oh. Here we go again, kids.
Ultimate Disney is marking the upcoming Studio Ghibli DVDs for an "expected" January release. This is pushed back from early December, when the titles were expected to be released for the Christmas season.
Ponyo is planned for release on DVD and Blu-Ray; Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service are planned for re-release on DVD. Those three titles are now out-of-print.
This is bad news. Obviously, I don't have to explain the details why. Missing the Holidays is an especially hard blow (guess it's back to dreidels for me!), and, frankly, I'd like to hear a good explanation for the delay.
The problem is that "expected in January" isn't a definite date, and an official announcement has yet to arrive. These movies could be delayed endlessly. It seems bizarre that the biggest shopping season of the year is deliberately avoided. If Disney isn't waiting for December, just what are they waiting for?
So now are we back to the old Disney games, where the Ghibli films are trapped in limbo indefinitely? I was hoping the thawing relations earlier this year would continue, but it appears that Ponyo's theatrical performance has changed things. Of course, that's just my guess at the moment, but it's the best guess I have right now.
Really, if the Disney suits are unhappy with Ponyo's box-office totals, they have no one but themselves to blame. I honestly don't know if Ponyo could have earned more than $14 million, but I think if we look at the larger picture - the performance of foreign films and Japanese anime films - Ponyo was a great success.
Studio Ghibli will never be more than a solid niche in America, but that's not a bad thing. We're living in a Long Tail world. Besides, have you seen what "mainstream success" looks like today? Fake Barbie Doll pop, American Idol, Michael Bay summer blockbusters....yuck. Take the road less traveled on, and it will make all the difference.