The entire Studio Ghibli catalog, including award-winning and beloved animated titles like My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away, will stream exclusively on HBO Max beginning in 2020.
This marks the first time that movies from Japan’s most famous animation house will be available on a streaming service. The announcement comes just a couple of days after Polygon reported that Ghibli films weren’t going to be made available on any streaming platform. GKids, the company that distributes Studio Ghibli movies in North America, noted that Studio Ghibli “does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world.” Prior to today’s announcement, Studio Ghibli movies were only available to purchase on DVD or Blu-ray, or through periodic theatrical revivals.
“They continue to believe that presentation is vital and particularly appreciate opportunities for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting,” a representative told Polygon.
That’s obviously changed. Koji Hoshino, chairman of Studio Ghibli, said in a press release that HBO Max is an “ideal home for our films” because it’s a home for premium content.
“Upon launch of the service this spring, existing Ghibli fans will be able enjoy their favorites and delve deeper into the library, while whole new audiences will be able to discover our films for the first time,” Hoshino said.
Securing the rights to Studio Ghibli films is a massive deal for HBO Max. WarnerMedia has spent a substantial amount on securing the rights to other important properties, including Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and The West Wing. Having some of the most adored anime titles on its streaming service, and being the only place for fans to stream the films, is also important for building its roster of family-friendly content. HBO Max is also the exclusive home for new Sesame Street episodes (which will still eventually end up on PBS through a previous deal).
Aside from some major content deals, not much else is known about HBO Max. There’s currently no price or launch date confirmed, although rumors suggest it will be priced between $15 and $17 a month. That makes it one of the most expensive streaming services, especially compared to Disney+ at $6.99 a month and Apple TV Plus at $4.99 a month. Asking for $16 or $17 a month is a lot, which makes exclusivity deals like this key to building perceived value. HBO Max is expected to launch in April 2020.
The entire list of Ghibli movies coming to HBO Max includes:
Castle in the Sky
The Cat Returns
From Up On Poppy Hill
Howl’s Moving Castle
Kiki’s Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbors the Yamadas
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
Tales From Earthsea
When Marnie Was There
Whisper of the Heart
The Wind Rises