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HBO Max Secures Exclusive Streaming Rights to Every Studio Ghibli Film

"Spirited Behind a Subscription" doesn't have the same ring to it

In its continuing effort to secure the exclusive rights to as many cherished childhood memories as possible, HBO has acquired sole US streaming rights to the entirety of Studio Ghibli’s catalogue of animated feature films. Everything from 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind to 2014’s When Marnie Was There will be available on HBO Max when it launches next spring, with the exception of The Wind Rises, which arrives on the service at some later date in 2020.

The odd Studio Ghibli film has cropped up from time to time on Netflix and/or Hulu, usually a family-friendly favorite like Spirited Away or Ponyo, but never with any rhyme or reason, and never for very long. HBO Max’s launch will be the first time that Studio Ghibli’s catalogue has ever been available to stream in its entirety in North America.

Not only is this development a monumental feather in HBO Max’s cap, but it’s also weird as a hell, considering that Disney — which is launching its own streaming service in the near future — currently owns the home media distribution rights to all Studio Ghibli films in North America. HBO purchased the streaming rights from GKIDS, which is currently responsible for theatrical distribution of Ghibli films in North America.

Complicating matters further, the English dubs of many Studio Ghibli films were produced by Disney for its DVD/Blu-ray releases. Disney even went so far as to re-dub My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, which already had English language versions from prior licensing arrangements.

So does this mean that HBO will have to pay Disney for the right to stream the dubbed version of a film that Disney itself can’t legally stream, since streaming is apparently a form of theatrical release and isn’t covered by Disney’s home media rights? Or does this mean that some films with Disney-produced dubs will only be available in the original Japanese? Will My Neighbor Totoro ever be available in its original, Streamline Pictures-produced English form ever again? Mods??

“But Jordo,” I hear you cry. “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind isn’t technically a Studio Ghibli movie!” And you’re right, it isn’t! But it was directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, and it is based on a manga of the same name written and drawn by Miyazaki, so it’s generally considered part of the Studio Ghibli canon, even though it was produced before the studio existed.

“So does that mean Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro, another non-Ghibli film directed by Miyazaki, will also be on HBO Max?” No, no it does not. Lupin isn’t owned by Ghibli and is subject to his own disturbing spiderweb of licensing rights. Here’s the full list of Ghibli films coming to HBO Max:

  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Only Yesterday
  • Porco Rosso
  • Ocean Waves
  • Pom Poko
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • Princess Mononoke
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas
  • Spirited Away
  • The Cat Returns
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Tales from Earthsea
  • Ponyo
  • The Secret World of Arrietty
  • From Up on Poppy Hill
  • The Wind Rises (late 2020)
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya
  • When Marnie Was There

About the Author

Jordan Mallory

Jordan is a frog that lives in Texas and loves Girls Generation. He's also Senior Podcast Producer! Before that he wrote video game news for almost ten years at a lot of websites you've heard of, including this one.