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Studio Ghibli Retrospective to Play in L.A., from 'My Neighbor Totoro' to 'Spirited Away'

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood January 10, 2012 at 12:55PM

Starting on January 26, LA's Egyptian and Aero Theatres will present a 20-year retro of films by Japan's Studio Ghibli, building on the success of a previous festival that played in New York in late 2011. 14 Ghibli films will screen, among them Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Spirited Away."

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Starting on January 26, LA's Egyptian and Aero Theatres will present a 20-year retrospective of films by Japan's acclaimed Studio Ghibli, building on the success of a previous festival that played in New York in late 2011.

Fourteen Ghibli films will be screened in both subtitled and English dubbed versions, among them Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke," "My Neighbor Totoro" and his Oscar-winning masterpiece "Spirited Away."  The retrospective will also feature several films by other Ghibli directors, such as "Whisper of the Heart" and "The Cat Returns."

The December retro at New York's IFC Center grossed almost $123,000 in just three weeks, setting several single-day records for the theater.  In addition to Los Angeles, the festival will also travel to several other American and Canadian markets, including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto.

GKIDS, the animation distributor behind the retrospective, recently partnered with Studio Ghibli to provide theatrical distribution for the studio's feature films.  The distributor is also planning several limited releases at the end of 2012 of several Ghibli works never before screened theatrically in the US.

The GKIDS agreement is an interesting twist in the Ghibli distribution story.  In a 1996 deal, Tokuma Shoten, a Japanese publisher and the parent company of Studio Ghibli, entered into an agreement with the Walt Disney Corporation that gave Disney the worldwide non-Japan home video distribution rights to several Ghibli films and the worldwide non-Asia theatrical distribution rights to "Princess Mononoke," which was released in 1997.  Disney (whose animation department is now run by Pixar director John Lasseter, a devoted friend of Miyazaki) was instrumental in producing and distributing the English dubbed versions of several of Miyazaki's films from the last decade, including "Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Ponyo."

The GKIDS deal grants the company the rights to the theatrical distribution of several Ghibli films in North America, while Disney will retain the home video rights to those films.  In addition, Disney will be reponsible for the North American theatrical distribution of Ghilbi's newest film, "The Secret World of Arrietty," which will open in the US in February. Here's a clip.

This article is related to: Hayao Miyazaki

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.