After almost three decades of partnership, the famed studio will become a subsidiary of the Japanese broadcaster in a move that should solve the issue of succession after Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro declined to take over.
We didn’t see this one coming. Famed Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli, known for its many classic hand-drawn films including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, and most recently The Boy and the Heron, is set to sell a controlling stake to broadcaster Nippon Television (NTV), where the studio will become a subsidiary, according to Variety.
After the sale, NTV will hold 42.3% of the company’s voting rights, and executives will join Studio Ghibli management. The valuation and timetable of the sale have not been disclosed. This is not a random move, however, as both companies have worked together for almost three decades. NTV broadcasted Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in 1985, and Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1989. It also carried Ghibli films in its movie program “Friday Road Show,” and supported the foundation of the Ghibli Museum in 2001.
Issues of succession were the root of the sale. “At Studio Ghibli, director Miyazaki Hayao is now 82 years old, and producer Suzuki Toshio is also 75 years old, and the issue of succession has been a problem for a long time,” Studio Ghibli said in a statement. “Miyazaki Goro, the eldest son of founder Miyazaki Hayao and an animation film director himself, has been mentioned several times as the successor to Studio Ghibli. However, Miyazaki Goro himself firmly declined, believing that it would be difficult to carry Ghibli alone, and that it would be better to leave the future of the company to others.”
Studio Ghibli’s producer Suzuki and Nippon Television’s chairman and executive officer Sugiyama Mikuni met last year at a hot spring resort to plan for the future of the company.
“At that time, Suzuki asked, ‘In order for Ghibli to continue to focus on making movies, would you be willing to help Nippon Television with its management?’ In response, Sugiyama promised to consider this matter positively, saying, ‘If it means continuing to support Ghibli’s works and protecting the environment in which Ghibli can continue to make movies’,” said Studio Ghibli.
“Because Nippon Television has maintained a long-standing relationship with Studio Ghibli while respecting its values, we were confident that we could permanently protect Studio Ghibli’s ‘manufacturing’ and brand value,” the two companies said.
Hayao Miyazaki’s last film The Boy and the Heron will release theatrically both in the U.K. and North America later this year.