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Spirited Away and every other Studio Ghibli film is going digital

Studio Ghbili is going digital. For the first time, its whole catalogue of films will be available to purchase digitally on a range of platforms, via distributor GKids, from December 17. 

The initial release will be followed by a subscription streaming release, on HBO Max, in May. The later release date will see the films made available to HBO Max subscribers without an additional purchase.

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These dates are for the US market (via Variety). It remains to be seen when the films will be made available digitally elsewhere.

This is a huge U-turn for Studio Ghibli. As recently as October, a representative had told Polygon: “[Studio Ghibli] does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world… They continue to believe that presentation is vital and particularly appreciate opportunities for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting.”

If you’re eager to experience, or even re-watch, some classic films from Studio Ghibli and you can’t wait until they hit HBO Max in May, then you will be pleased to hear that the 21-film catalogue will be available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Apple TV and more.

As far as animated films go, Japan’s Studio Ghibli has produced some of the best, including dark Academy Award winner, Spirited Away. The 2001 film follows a moody 10-year-old girl’s adventure, after her parents are turned into pigs by a witch. She ventures into a magical world of spirits, monsters and strange creatures in order to try and rescue her parents.

The story is based on Japanese Shinto folklore and mixes traditional tales with modern storytelling to deliver a compelling animated adventure.

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While Spirited Away is the most well-known film from Studio Ghibli, the studio is far from a one hit wonder. 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle was another hit created by the Japanese animators. The film is based on a novel, of the same name, from 1986, it’s set in a fictional world and follows another young woman who falls prey to a witch.

Howl’s Moving Castle won numerous awards and was nominated for the Academy Award for best animated feature. Alongside the 20 other films in Studio Ghibli’s catalogue, it adds to a fantastic roster of animated entertainment.

This could be another important addition to HBO’s lineup as the streaming wars hot up. HBO Max is looking to compete with Netflix, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus and will need to offer a varied and interesting library to do so. These Studio Ghibli hits can only add to the platform’s appeal.

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