The famous Japanese animation department at Studio Ghibli is to close it has been confirmed.
Toshio Suzuki, the company's general manager, announced the closure on Japanese TV. While rumours of the closure had been circulating for some time, the confirmation still comes as a shock to fans of the beloved animation studio.
Studio Ghibli have made some of the best-loved family-friendly animated movies to come out of Japan in the last twenty years.
Among their biggest successes are MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO, and SPIRITED AWAY, which grossed over $274 million worldwide. However, the last few releases had not made anywhere near a profit. Following the retirement of co-founder Hayao Miyazaki last year, and Suzuki moving from production to general manager, the company will now focus on 'managing the trademarks and copyrights of the existing product' - essential marketing spin-off toys and the like - but keep an option to freelance out any new projects should they be feasible.
The studio's last feature will be WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE, based on a novel by Joan G. Robinson. As yet unreleased in the West, the film debuted in Japan on July 19th.
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