By Anne Thompson and Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood August 3, 2014 at 6:42PM
Studio Ghibli producer, manager and erstwhile president Toshio Suzuki, who brought Hayao Miyazaki out of obscurity and into the light in the 1980s, has spoken up about what the upcoming changes at the animation house really mean. And we may be seeing more from Miyazaki, who has been hot and cold about his retirement in the past. Here's what Suzuki told a Japanese morning show:
We’re changing the way we make (animation). … We wanted to make a dream company. We thought we would make what suited us and not make what didn’t suit us. We were able to realize (that dream) to some extent and we’re very happy about that. But now we’re at a point where we’ve got to think about what we’ll do next.
[Hayao Miyazaki] may make something again. This is my guess, but I’m thinking it will be something short.
Miyazaki has talked about returning to his manga roots in the past. But Suzuki suggests a short film may be in his future. Ghibli productions roll out slowly stateside, so this could take the form of an exclusive short at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, which houses Miyazaki's one-off projects outside the realm of feature film. (We interviewed him during "The Wind Rises" days here.)
EARLIER: Early reports that one of the world's most beloved animation studios, Hayao Miyazaki's legendary Studio Ghibli, might shut its doors and stop making films seemed to be coming true. A news report translation of Studio Ghibli general manager and Toshio Suzuki's TV announcement of Studio Ghibli's closure was posted on an unofficial Studio Ghibli blog. stating that Suzuki was dismantling the Studio Ghibli animation production department. According to Variety, however, that report was exaggerated --or badly translated. Instead, Suzuki described "the need for big changes in all our operations." He discussed taking a short break to assess the studio's future, not a permanent shuttering.
TOH! ranked the Top Ten Studio Ghibli films here.
Ghibli's newest film, "When Marnie Was There," opened in Japan on July 19. Whispers of the studio's closing have circulated since last year, when powerhouse writer-director Miyazaki (of "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" fame) announced he was retiring and Ghibli producer/co-founder Suzuki stepped down from producing and became the studio's general manager instead.
If shuttered, Miyazaki himself had posited that Studio Ghibli would focus on not making new films but rather on managing its copyrights and trademarks and generating revenue from its library of previous creations. In 2010, Miyazaki acknowledged that there was a potential future for the studio in such a form, telling Cut Magazine, "Ghibli should be able to continue with about five staff members as a copyright management company even if we smash the studio. So, Ghibli can say 'We stop film production. Goodbye.' I do not have to be there."
According to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Ghibli has declined to follow other animation studios in sending jobs overseas, and thus their films have become increasingly expensive to make. According to the paper, Miyazaki's last film, 2013's "The Wind Rises" has yet to turn a profit, even though it has made over $90 million. Ghibli's recent film, "The Tale of Princess Kaguya," made $50 million, and was considered a flop by the studio, according to Asahi and New Cafe: "There's no choice but to dissolve the studio, because it's unable cross the high hurdle of announcing a new film on an annual basis."
"When Marnie Was There," a ghost tale adapted from the book by Joan Robinson, got its first trailer earlier this month--it opened in Japan on July 19--and it promises the lush, thoughtful artistry of all Ghibli films. Let's hope it is not the last.