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Toshio Suzuki Explains How He Convinced Hayao Miyazaki to Approve Netflix's Streaming Deal

posted on by Kim Morrissy
'I told him that we'd be able to cover the production costs [of his current film] with the deal.'

According to Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, Hayao Miyazaki doesn't use computers or smartphones, but he was convinced to go along with the studio's recently announced streaming deal with Netflix for the sake of funding the Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?) feature film that he is currently working on, which is 15% complete after 3.5 years of production.

Huffington Post Japan reports that Suzuki attended a talk event at the HMV&BOOKS SHIBUYA last Saturday to commemorate the release of the Ghibli Museum's first photo book. After the talk session about the book ended, Suzuki was asked a question on why the company lifted its moratorium on online streaming.

He responded, "The film that Hayao Miyazaki is working on is going to take a long time to complete. That being the case, it's also going to cost a lot of money. I told him that we'd be able to cover the production costs with the deal, to which he said, 'Well, then, it can't be helped.'"

"You see, Miyazaki doesn't know much about video streaming services like Netflix," Suzuki went on. "He doesn't use computers or smartphones, so when I told him about digital streaming, it didn't really click for him. I made use of that."

Finally, Suzuki explained that the reason he chose Netflix was because Miyazaki is creating something unlike anything Ghibli has done before. "I belong to the immediate post-war generation, and our generation loves new things. And we love machines. Regarding Netflix, we've started reaching a point where modern streaming services can create entirely new films. I think that's interesting. At the same time, Ghibli is making a film that is completely unlike anything we've done before. We're making that at the same time we're opening up our films to streaming. I think that's a great thing. To people who make films, theaters and DVDs are important, but I think that streaming is important as well."

HBO Max and GKIDS announced in October that HBO Max will begin streaming the "entire Studio Ghibli film library" of 21 feature films in spring 2020. GKIDS also released 21 Studio Ghibli films for for digital download-to-own in the U.S. and Canada on December 17 on digital transaction platforms including Apple TV, Amazon VOD, Vudu, Google Play, Sony, Microsoft, and FandangoNOW.

Netflix, Studio Ghibli, and Wild Bunch International announced in January that Netflix will stream 21 Studio Ghibli films worldwide except for the United States, Canada, and Japan. The films will feature subtitles in 28 languages and dubbed versions in "up to" 20 languages.

Studio Ghibli previously had a reputation for avoiding streaming services. In 2018, GKIDS made a statement that "Studio Ghibli does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world." Suzuki has also been very frank about explaining why Ghibli has not sought perpetual growth, even after creating worldwide hits.

Source: Huffington Post Japan (Aya Ikuta)

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