Is Studio Ghibli closing? That's the question facing the internet right now. Earlier today, news broke the studio would be closing its animation department and maintaining just the copyright management department. Hm.
Movie Monday (@IndieMovieMon) August 3, 2014
Media sources seem to be at odds, though.
A fan-run Studio Ghibli Tumblr translated the interview. "Studio Ghibli will close and production studio anime, leaving himself only as a company that will manage its trademarks." These comments from a TV interview on MBS's Jounetsu Tairiku where Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki announced the closing. But is that the right translation since the website says they will be "adding more data" when it's available?
Studio Ghibli announces they're closing down and Transformers 4 is the first movie to break US$1 billion in the same day. *sigh* this world.— BE|Kane Blueriver (@KaneBlueriverCL) August 3, 2014
IGN seems to believe so. According to the website, rumors have been persisting for months that the studio would be closing after finishing the promotion of When Marnie Was There last month. Oh-totoro.com, the Tumblr site, claims the lack of marketability for Kaguya-hime no Monogatari helped push the decision.
But Kotaku's translation interprets Suzuki's statements as "we're thinking about disbanding the production department," not that they will absolutely close. And the idea is to make a "big change to the larger view of Studio Ghibli."
The implication is a restructuring, not a closing. Like many businesses with success and retiring co-founders, rumors circulate quickly. Suzuki mentions "Miyazaki's retiring was quite significant" and left some questions.
"After that, what should Ghibli do?" No one can "endlessly create" films and the producer announced the studio had decided to take "a short rest and think about what's next."
Kotaku also points out no major Japanese presses have jumped on this story. "Had Studio Ghibli - a national treasure - definitively ceased production of films, it would be headline news around the country, as it would be important in both the entertainment and business worlds."
Film Stage (@TheFilmStage) August 3, 2014
Studio Ghibli's one of—if not the major—2D animation studio, as Disney's pretty much destroyed their department in order to promote 3D and Pixar. Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle are still remembered as major films for many millennials. Princess Mononoke and Ponyo constantly make the internet rounds in discussions and image sharing. And last year's The Wind Rises was an Oscar-nominated animation film.
Studio Ghibli announce they are closing down their animation department pic.twitter.com/bLmHIORcc8— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) August 3, 2014
Anime News Network agrees with Kotaku. "Suzuki discussed the great changes that the entire studio is undergoing at the studio's shareholders meeting, and mused that these changes may include dismantling the production department."
Note the non-definitive use of language. "The end result would be 'rebuilding' the studio and creating an environment for the next generation." Again, a decision that makes sense because the co-founders are retiring and moving on to less stressful, time consuming roles, if sticking around--like Sukuzi moving from producer to "general manager."
It looks like there's a wide discrepancy between Western and Eastern media. So the internet is freaking out while the producers (Miyazaki, Suzuki, and Isao Takahata) stay silent at the moment.
Adding to fuel to the fire, reports Coming Soon, is the fact Marnie doesn't have a U.S. release date. There are many reasons for a non-release in the movie industry right now, though. For example, a distribution company may be leery with ticket sales down 20% right now.
Look out for more information before assuming the closure. Only count the truth when the heads of Studio Ghibli speaks on the matter with a sense of permanence.