Beginning next year (2020), HBO Max will exclusively stream the entire movie catalog of Studio Ghibli which contains award-winning anime titles like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.
This will be the first time that animated features from the legendary animation house will become available on a stream service provider. The news comes right after Polygon announcing that Studio Ghibli films will not be made available on any streaming platform. The distribution company GKids, who carries Studio Ghibli movies in North America said that Studio Ghibili ‘does not make their movies available digitally whether it may be for streaming or download anywhere around the world.‘ Prior to this news, Ghibli films were only available via Blue-ray or DVD purchases and the occasional theatrical re-release.
A representative said in the Polygon interview that Ghibli believes that presentation is very important and appreciate the opportunities that can give audiences the experience to watch the films together in a theatrical setting.
This notion has changed though, as Studio Ghibli chairman, Koji Hoshino stated in a press release that HBO Max will be an ideal home for their films because it is a platform where premium content can be streamed.
Hoshino added that HBO Max will launch the Ghibli films this spring and that fans will have the opportunity to enjoy the classic animated films and dive deeper into the complex Ghibli library. Hoshino explained further that while this is big news to Ghibli fans, it would also enable people who are not familiar with their animated features to discover and enjoy them for the first time.
HBO Max locking the rights to the animated features of Studio Ghibli is a huge deal for the streaming platform. Other companies like Warner Media has spent a great deal of their finances to secure the rights for other big properties like The Big Bang Theory, The West Wing, and Friends among others. HBO Max is pathing their way into a more family-friendly approach, having a good collection of popular Japanese anime shows with huge fan bases that will be available in the platform when it is finally launched. New Sesame Street episodes will also be exclusively streamed in HBO Max though this will transition into airing on PBS via a previous deal.
There are still a lot of things unknown about HBO Max. They have yet to announce their pricing or launch date for the streaming platform. There are rumors circulating around that their monthly fee will be around $15-$17 per month. If there is any weight to these rumors, that would make HBO Max one of the more expensive streaming platforms with Apple TV Plus at $4.99 a month, and Disney+ having a monthly subscription fee of $6.99.
HBO Max will be available, April of 2020.