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Miyazaki's Future w/ Disney 170

An anonymous reader sent us an interesting little article about Miyazaki and Disney. Disney of course owns the rights to distribute his films (like to pick a gigantic example Princess Mononoke) to worldwide audiences. Apparently lackluster profits from Mononoke may jeopradize future Miyazaki titles release in the US, which would be terribly unfortunate considering that in the end, the DVD release of Mononoke was absolutely wonderful (although its a somewhat dark film for Mouse) This is all tied to Spirited Away, his latest film which is apparently doing great things at the Japanese Box Office.
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Miyazaki's Future w/ Disney

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  • What a shame... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Captain_Frisk ( 248297 ) <captain_frisk.bootless@org> on Saturday August 25, 2001 @08:06AM (#2216146) Homepage
    What a shame it is that the big corporations have to market to the lowest common denominator. I too own the DVD of Princess Mononoke, and I love it. I think it really stinks that instead of getting quality movies released, Disney puts out crap like Atlantis, Spy Kids or most recently the Princess Diaries, because they know that people will pay for them.

    I read an article over at c|net yesterday discussing the idea of "critic proof" movies (they related it to Windows XP), movies that are commercially successful even though the critics hate them, like Tomb Raider, and most action movies. I dislike that they are willing to release movies like this. It seems like nearly everything released recently falls under this category. I haven't been to the movie theater in months.

    • Well, that's what you get for capitalism, fortunately or unfortunately. Still, on my experience, some of their bad stuff is good when one's desperate for Sunday afternoon viewing of some kind to avoid going to the outdoors.

    • And then GREAT movies like Memento [http] just don't come to a theatre anywhere near me. Its like a fucking conspiracy. The movie is awesome, apparently has won great acclaim from the critics, but just didn't show in any city that wasn't a "major" one.

      Hollywood be some bullshit.

      • Don't despair, the DVD release [netflix.com] is not that far away!

        For anyone who hasn't seen this because it didn't make it to your town, consider renting the DVD of Memento. It's great.

      • What's almost worse is when they do come to your city, but the independet theater chain buys exclusive engagements for their horribly crappy, over-priced, out of the way, with no parking near them, theaters.

        I missed seeing The Road Home because I couldn't get it together for an excursion. I also missed Series 7: The Contenders as I thought it was called The Contenders, and the exclusively engaged theater only noted it as Series 7. Memento on the other hand didn't go for that exclusive engagement crap (and may still be in theaters near me), so it was no effort at all. The Princess and The Warrior was good too. :) Just throwin that in.

    • it was only successfull because of angelena jolie, me and all my male friends saw it, but only because of jolie. Quite ridiculous eh?

      and yes it sucked, worst movie ever.
    • Re:What a shame... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnG ( 93975 )
      Actually, I've taken quite the opposite view of yours alot. Not that current generation of movies are great, but that critics generally aren't worth a damn. If I wanted somebodies opinion of a movie, I'd ask my cousin, who has very similar taste in movies to me. Critics are paid to give an opinion on an almost entirely subjective matter. Everyone's likes and dislikes are different. Critics seem altogether pointless to me.
      • Critics are paid to give an opinion on an almost entirely subjective matter. Everyone's likes and dislikes are different. Critics seem altogether pointless to me.

        If the critics you listen to only give their opinion about whether the film was good/bad then you're listening to lousy critics.

        Good critics tell you about the film. They might talk about the quality of the filming or lighting or production. They might provide a quick history on the story or staging. They're likely to talk about the screenplay, who wrote it, what other screenplays they've written. They might talk about other films the director has worked on. They might talk about the actors and discuss the quality of their acting.

        And at the end, sure, they probably give the film a rating. This is their opinion. But they just spent several minutes giving you facts, so you can form your own opinion.

        Good critics are hard to find. There's only one pair of Australian film critics I bother listening to. The other "critics" have no idea what they're doing.

        • "There's only one pair of Australian film critics I bother listening to. The other "critics" have no idea what they're doing."

          I sincerely hope you're not talking about "The Movie Show"'s pair of twits. They are a couple of the least intelligent people I've ever seen.

    • Support independent films! This is where all the gems are. Low budget movies are generally always better, because they can focus on plot instead of pleasing the low attention spans of the MTV generation. Look at Rotten Tomatoes top films of 2001 [rottentomatoes.com] (so far). All of them are independent films! This is where the great films are. I recently saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch in theatres, it was awesome!
      All metropolitan cities have at least one theatre that runs these kinds of movies. They are just like any normal theatre, including jacked up prices on pop-corn and coke. In the Seattle area, you can go to the theatre in Broadway Market on Capitol Hill.
    • Re:What a shame... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by msobkow ( 48369 )
      I think you've nailed the biggest problem with North American movies lately.

      American productions tend to be un-funny "comedies" targetted at teen audiences, action flicks that can be enjoyed while intoxicated, and slasher/horror flicks that seem tame compared to the news.

      Canadian productions tend to be heavy dramas and histo-dramas that may educate, but rarely entertain.

      So-called "underground" productions seem to be stuck with studying street life, prostitution, and the war on drugs. Sometimes they have good characterization, but often a weak plot.

      As to "critic proof" movies, I never pay attention to what the critics say anyhow. I find I usually disagree with critics, not because they've done a bad review, but because we just don't have similar tastes. I kind of pity the critics -- do you enjoy a drama if you're in the mood for a comedy, action, or something else? Could you give a fair review of such a movie if you're forced to watch it in order to write a review for Friday?

      Lately at least 2/3 of my DVD purchases have been anime, whether traditional hand-drawn or CGI-enhanced. Even though the translations and voice tracks are often poorly done, the plot lines and characters are often interesting enough that I find them far better movies than what is produced locally.

      Unfortunately I don't think there is much we can do as long as North American companies focus on blockbuster hits instead of just making a reasonable profit. There are plenty of no-name talented actors and actresses that could carry a character through a well-written movie, but the investors insist on blowing millions on big-names and then whine when they don't make a few million profit back.

      • American productions tend to be un-funny "comedies" targetted at teen audiences, action flicks that can be enjoyed while intoxicated, and slasher/horror flicks that seem tame compared to the news."

        I certainly agree with this. I must be the only person alive who had no interest in seeing American Pie, 1 or 2. The comedy in the previews looks downright stupid (a guy having sex with a pie... in the kitchen... right next to the door that leads into the house.. that he doesn't live in alone? A guy not realizing that it's super-glue and not lubricant he has in his hand before actually appling the stuff to his genitals?) and the "funny" parts I was told about were all very predictable.
        Horror flicks are the same. It's ashame to see horror going for the eye candy (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rebecca Gayheart, etc.) instead of the kind of stuff that usually makes the weak stomached avert their eyes. Pretty women are fine, but make them the main attraction in a movie about pretty women, not about blood and guts.

        There are plenty of no-name talented actors and actresses that could carry a character through a well-written movie, but the investors insist on blowing millions on big-names and then whine when they don't make a few million profit back. This is another big problem. Not that I mind seeing the big actors. But that I mind seeing actors that can't act! You don't have to spend millions of dollars on a big name actor to find one with talent, they are all over the place, but so many movies, TV commercials, radio commercials, etc. can't seem to find them. In fact I think sucky acting, the insistance on sounding like a cartoon character, and WAY to much usage of the reverb filter is a requirement for radio commercials.

        OK, I'm done ranting for now. :)

        • I must be the only person alive who had no interest in seeing American Pie, 1 or 2.
          No, you're not. I wouldn't watch those movies unless someone paid me a decent amount of money to do so.

          I kinda want to watch "Rat Race" because Rowan Atkinson is in it, but it seems to be a really bad remake of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
    • movies that are commercially successful even though the critics hate them, like Tomb Raider

      What do you mean, critics hate them? All the ads *I* saw for Tomb Raider said things like:

      • "Wow! Blockbuster movie of the Year!"
      • "Angelina Jolie is incredible!"
      • "The Must-See Movie Event of the Summer!!!"
      • "If you only leave your house once, do it and go see Tomb Raider -- holy cow, it's just that good!!!!!!!!!!"
      • "It changed my life forever!!"

      Oh, sure, the critic in the paper hated it, but who reads those guys, buried in back of the weekly calendar section? I mean, really, man.

      • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 25, 2001 @06:34PM (#2216788) Journal
        Yeah, but it's what you DIDN'T see in the quote. One thing I'll never say about Tomb Raider is Wow! Blockbuster movie of the Year! When I saw how horrid she was, I said Angelina Jolie is incredible! You don't see acting that bad every day! The Must-See Movie Event Of The Summer!!! Sado-masochists everywhere agree! The studios would like me to say If you only leave your house once, do it and go see Tomb Raider -- holy cow, it's just that good!!!!!!!!! but they didn't offer me NEARLY enough dough. It changed my life forever!! I can never love theater again! It's all in the editing.
    • Atlantis was good, though. I can't speak for the other movies you mentioned but how can you judge these recent movies even though you say you "haven't been to the movie theater in months?"

      Everyone keeps raving about how amazing Japenese anime is and how great the style is and bla bla bla. Anime sucks, people. The Japanese treat their animators like slaves. I have a Japanese friend who wanted to go into the animation field in Japan but found out that they pay Japanese animators around a dollar per cel. Most of them have to live with their parents because they can't afford an apartment on their own from their salary. And the poor quality of animation shows. There are very few inbetweens, corners are cut in the lip sync, pretty much everything looks cheap. The only thing anime has going for it is the art direction which is sometimes decent.

      Of course, this will get moderated down because everyone is obsessed with anime and pretty much everything Japanese right now and nobody wants to acknowledge the fact that Disney, although they have a shitty business plan and could use some original ideas in the story department, is still cranking out the best traditional animation in the world.
    • You have no soul. Can I interest you in a slightly used one, at a great price?
    • What do i have to say? It's the american concept of entertainment. What you and I seek are more an art form. Something that has a redeeming value to it. Pure entertainment is just short of a complete waste of time.

      I can provide two examples of such where entertainment has overridden what could be art. Similar in concept, but only one is real.

      -- American companies change the voices to poor knockoffs, cut scenes, add overlays, and even change characterizations on occation.

      -- The Mona Lisa with a toothy grin in front of a bright and shiny background.

      Why would people do it? because it sells as entertainment, and the artisic values are sacrificed for market share.

      And thus american culture became about as tasteful as a milk culture.
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs.ajs@com> on Saturday August 25, 2001 @08:35AM (#2216178) Homepage Journal
    I've never seen an ad for Mononoke (though, of course, I own the DVD). It's interesting that Disney's compaining about sales but has never really pushed the film....
    • Re:Advertizing? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Troy Baer ( 1395 )

      I've never seen an ad for Mononoke (though, of course, I own the DVD). It's interesting that Disney's compaining about sales but has never really pushed the film....

      Part of the problem with Disney's handling of Princess Mononoke was that they distributed it like they would an arthouse movie (i.e. relatively limited release, not much promotion), so that it was virtually guaranteed to not make money. Where I live, only the little hole-in-the-wall arthouse theaters showed it -- the big cineplexes didn't.

      What happens is that the corps have multiple tiers of products, and they really only put their energy into promoting their top-tier stuff in terms of expected ROI. This is kinda circular -- most times something won't become really popular unless it's promoted, but it won't be promoted unless the corps think it'll be really popular... This also shows up in the music biz -- take a look at how Hollywood Records (the Mouse again) promoted Queen's last album before Freddie Mercury died (read: they didn't), or how Elektra promotes 2nd-tier but solid-selling bands like Dream Theater (read: they don't). In DT's case, they've actually had trouble convincing Elektra to let them make new records because they don't go gold in the US right away, even though they do huge business in Europe and Japan.

      • Re:Advertizing? (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by OmegaDan ( 101255 )
        maybe elektra knows DT's shitty glam-rock vocals don't cut it :)

        I love DT but face it ... they're dinosaurs. People are ready to feel good about themselves again and *thats* why DT isn't on the top of anyones list.

        However, what might be undestated is that advertising will make *anything* sell. At large the american public are sheep that will buy what they're show.

      • Re:Advertizing? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Saturday August 25, 2001 @01:40PM (#2216334) Homepage Journal
        Disney didn't just make the decision on the spur of the moment. They apparently did test-market it in some cities in Minneapolis, going full out on advertising and stuff there. Unfortunately, even with the ad campaign, it bombed, and Disney must have decided to cut their losses and not "throw good money after bad" on advertising. Too bad, but these things happen.
        • I was about to disagree with the parent post, about lack of advertising. Living in the Twin Cities, I remember seeing a ton of ads for P. M. You Are Correct, Sir!
        • What were they thinking? No offense to Minnesotans, but media centers are New York and Los Angeles, with San Francisco and Seattle being very hip but secondary. But Minneapolis as a place to test-market anime? They must be joking.

          In the USA, new media ideas spread from the coasts, not from the midwest.

          • On the contrary, Minneapolis has the largest alternative media audience in the country. There are tons of pirate radio stations and public access TV centers, too. We also actively speak out against consolidation, and the 'californication' of society, which is at the heart of most of the alternative media sources. Beleive it or not. I don't care if you don't beleive me ;)

            Think about this another way. It snows up here for 7-8 months a year. WHAT ELSE ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?!?!?!

        • Someone already pointed out the inanity of choosing the midwest to start form, but here's a thought: WHAT did they advertize?

          Mononoke is very hard to advertize correctly to the US, becuase what Anime fans like about it is 10 years beyond were most folks in the US sit on animation. If you think back ten years, what hooked the first wave of anime fandom (not the real early birds who were into Astro Boy and the wave of 80s movies like Yamatto, known in the US as the bastardized TV show Star Blazers).... I recall it being the fact that Akira was the first movie I'd ever seen that had serious, gritty action AND the freedom that comes from animation. I recall (now I feel like Kaga) some of the folks with me thinking that this was the future of US animation, and when you explained it to someone else that way, they really bit into it.

          So, how to advertize future anime? How about this (using Mononoke as an example):

          [black screen]
          V.O.: Remember the golden days of animation?
          [pause for a beat]
          [fade in still of woods from the beginning]
          V.O.: That's about to change!
          [quick cut to the same woods, with demon leaping out]
          [cut to Mononoke looking up, blood on her face, ping sound is heard, as her earring flashes]
          V.O.: From the east comes the story of nature's wrath...
          [cut to boars charging]
          [cut to riflemen fireing]
          V.O.: and human frailty
          [cut to Mononoke in any of the scenes where she's confused and looking for an answer around her]
          V.O.: The story of a princess of the forest
          [cut to Mononoke pulling down her mask, preparing to charge]
          V.O.: like you've never seen before!
          [music cuts in. something with strong precussion on each cut]
          [cut through many scenes of violence, leaping on rooftops, decapitation by archery. about 10-20 seconds]
          [music stops suddenly, or drops to something quiet]
          [fade in nightwalker walking through the treetops, silent for a moment, and then, quietly but forcefully]
          V.O.: This is where animated film grows up. Are you ready?
          [quick flash of Mononoke dropping from a roof, into a crouch]

  • They'll just add talking animals and bad musical numbers to them first.
  • This really sucks. Disney shouldn't be in the anime game anyway. Manga has been doing it right for years. It's a shame that Hayao's talent is being wasted with them. Who needs new anime anyway I guess. When there's Boah, Vampire Hunter D, Fists of the North Star, and many other classics to watch.

    Speaking of classic anime. I saw Ninja Scroll on cinemax the other day.
    • Manga (aka Mangle) does anime right? I dare you to Watch the DVD version of Wings Of Honneamise and say that. One of the best movies of all time (not anime movie, movies in general) completely ruined by mistakes in the DVD authoring and manga refuses to acknowledge that they have released a defective product.
    • I have to agree with a comment above on Manga. As a proud (NOT) owner of R1 dvd of Wings of Honneamise, I have a good reason to be more than a little upset with them. On other hand no studio is perfect, I can come up with a few shortcomings with every studio releasing anime in US. Still If Disney has no interest in releasing Hayao's works in US, they at least could strike a deal with one of other studios to do it for them. After all, they manage to make money on anime DVD's without doing much hyping for every release.
  • BTW... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Saturday August 25, 2001 @08:58AM (#2216218) Homepage Journal
    ...if all you've seen is Mononoke, you'd do well to see Miyazaki's other films as well. I call them films because to call them simply anime or (even worse) "cartoons" is like spitting on a Picasso by calling it a "drawing".

    - A.P.
    • I disagree - they are outstanding ANIME titles. What makes you think "films" are better than anime? I've never seen a movie I fell so in love with, like I did with many Anime series.

      It's more like films are drawings, and masterpieces of Art equals Anime :)
  • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Saturday August 25, 2001 @09:08AM (#2216228)

    I first saw a fansub of Nausicaa in the eighties at GenCon, and though already a fan of anime, had never seen something so beautiful. Like many others, I fell in love with it, and wanted more.

    Thus the problem. How do you get a copy of a film that no one will distribute here? I'd be thrilled to pay just about any amount of money if someone would just sell the thing. Instead, we're forced to sneak around just to enjoy the art. I wrote Disney a letter thanking them for releasing Mononoke and Kiki (charming movie, even with Phil Hartman's Gigi), and telling them I hoped they would do the same high-quality releases for Miyazaki's other films.

    But nothing. We still have their wonderful Mononoke DVD release, and the so-so pan and scan of Kiki, of which every copy I've seen is too bright. They also distributed a widescreen Japanese-language Kiki with English subtitles -- but on VHS only. When I want to see any other Miyazaki films, I have no choice but to view pirated versions.

    I know my complaints are old, but they're also current. I am going to watch the movies, even if it means breaking the law. Isn't that a hoot? Having to break the law to watch a family-friendly animated movie. Of course Disney would throw a fit, and Studio Ghibli sure doesn't like it either, but I'm ready, willing, and able to give them money -- even if they want to overcharge -- but they won't sell them!

    So is it any wonder that fans of these movies pirate them when there's no legal option for obtaining them? Even Miyazaki fan sites, like http://www.nausicaa.net [nausicaa.net] denounce piracy. But it's sort of two-faced, because that's the only option THEY have for watching the films too. It's very frustrating.

    • I agree with you. I feel strange when I see that we are now having better distribution network in the pirate world than in the legal market. Is it the end of capitalist?

      internet right now is a form of communist no?

    • But nothing. We still have their wonderful Mononoke DVD release, and the so-so pan and scan of Kiki, of which every copy I've seen is too bright. They also distributed a widescreen Japanese-language Kiki with English subtitles -- but on VHS only. When I want to see any other Miyazaki films, I have no choice but to view pirated versions.
      You're forgetting the Manga Video Castle of Cagliostro DVD, which is also so-so in that it's not anamorphic, but it does have a new, accurate subtitle translation and a rather good dub on it.
      So is it any wonder that fans of these movies pirate them when there's no legal option for obtaining them? Even Miyazaki fan sites, like Nausicaa.net [nausicaa.net] denounce piracy. But it's sort of two-faced, because that's the only option THEY have for watching the films too. It's very frustrating.
      Well, not quite the only option. The Miyazaki films are gradually coming out on DVD in Japan; if you can find a region-free player, you can order the Japanese versions, which also come with rather more extras (usually a whole extra disc) than you would find in a US version--with English subtitles, too.

      Also, it's worth noting that one reason Nausicaa.net denounces piracy is that they sort of have to, if they want to remain on good terms with Studio Ghibli and those people close to it, who are the ones who provide them with their information.

      • You're forgetting the Manga Video Castle of Cagliostro DVD...

        I know, I left out My Neighbor Totoro too. Sorry :)

        Well, not quite the only option. The Miyazaki films are gradually coming out on DVD in Japan; if you can find a region-free player...

        I do actually have a region-free player (I got lucky and got one of the AD-600s before they patched the BIOS), but I'm ashamed to admit I don't know Japanese very well, and don't know how to order from a non-English web site. So maybe it's not as bad as I stated. But I would like to be able to order it from somewhere without having to jump through hoops, you know?

        Also, it's worth noting that one reason Nausicaa.net denounces piracy is that they sort of have to...

        That makes perfect sense, and I really can't fault nausicaa.net for denouncing piracy, but on most of the films listed there, it's clear there's no version sold in the USA. I'm just venting because I'd absolutely buy whatever films came available that had Miyazaki associated with them, and I'm quite willing to pay. I do know where to get pirated versions of them all (don't we all), but I'd rather not steal. However, I'm going to watch the movies I like, even if no one will sell them to me.

        There's something just twisted about the way this whole thing works, and I can't quite put my finger on it. I guess they'd be right in saying I don't have the right to watch whatever movie I want, but it still doesn't feel right. It's to the point I'd pay someone to order them from Japan for me because I don't know how.

    • This is clearly not the solution for everyone, but, if you can live without English, the Archives of Studio Ghibli is the way to go. This regionless DVD boxed set was released in Asia by Animation Japan International, Inc., and has ten Ghibli films, Japanese language track, with Chinese subtitles that can't be turned off. The films are:

      1. Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (1984)

      2. Laputa (Castle in the Sky) (1986)

      3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

      4. My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

      5. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

      6. Only Yesterday (1991)

      7. Porco Rosso (1992)

      8. Pom Poko (1994)

      9. Whisper of the Heart (1995)

      10. Princess Mononoke (1997)

      Bought mine on Amazon for $75, still in the shrinkwrap. I've been watching them with the translated scripts, which you can get from Nausicaa.net [nausicaa.net], and I'm very happy with them.

      Whether this is positive or negative depends on your point of view, but I don't think any money from this collection goes to Disney.

    • there's a grey market collection of *ALL* the major studio ghibli films available on dvd. it comes from singapore and is probably marginally legal. it comes on 6 dvds, with 2 movies on each disc, and selectable english/chinese subtitles. I ordered a copy off of ebay, but haven't recieved it yet so I can't comment on quality. but it sells for a mindblowingly low price as well. oh yeah, region 0 - viewable on all dvd players.

      also, there are region 2 (or 3 possibly?) collectors' sets for tonari no totoro and kiki's delivery service, which probably offer the best possible transfer, as well as a second disc on each with extras. they also have english subtitles. they're pretty expensive though, and available only through expensive japanese mailorder.
    • I used to frequent their mailing list, I got in big arguments with the more snidey members of the list about how THERE WAS NO WAY TO GET THE MOVIES LEGALLY. At semi-resonable prices, anyways. Bunch of losers, the some of them.
    • Having to break the law to watch a family-friendly animated movie. Of course Disney would throw a fit, and Studio Ghibli sure doesn't like it either, but I'm ready, willing, and able to give them money -- even if they want to overcharge -- but they won't sell them!

      They are overcharging. You can buy those movies in the United States for several billion dollars; simply buy Disney Enterprises Inc.

    • Studio Ghibli DVDs are all coming out one by one in Japan. Castle of Cagliostro, Grave of Fireflies (out in US), My Neighbors Yamadas, Kiki's Delivery Service are out with Totoro coming out in September. The rest are all set to be released next year. They all have English subtitle and some of them have English dub as well. They cost around $30-45US and you can get them at amotokyo [amotokyo.com] or cdjapan [cdjapan.co.jp].

      Cagliostro and Kiki (possibly all future releases) have a neat second disc with the entire film in key frame/story board form synched to the audio.

  • but how often does this happend? >> error? [skurk.com]
  • I was thrilled to see Mononoke distributed in the United States and voiced by pro actors like Bill Thornton and Claire Danes.

    However, I took it with a grain of salt because of the nature of corporat culture.

    Consider a big company that makes cars, like Ford. It will sometimes innovate and sometimes fall back to basics, depending on the lemming-like groupthink patterns of middle management.

    Sometimes the lemmings will follow a rogue vp or engineer and make something new and brilliant, reaching out to a market of people in a different culture.

    Sometimes they will return to some archivally determined basic, conservative operations in an attempt to bring back the good old days.

    This cyclical pattern applies to media as well. If one accepts this dynamic, then it may be better for Miyazaki to produce independently, as he would have to conform to a corporate renaissance of classical Disney production standards to continue producing there.

    I'd rather he stayed independent than turn into a lemming.

    • by ll1234 ( 167894 )
      Disney does not control Studio Ghibli! They simply have an agreement to distribute the films.[1]

      Miyazaki retains total control over his projects, although he's reaching That Age and probably won't direct another (feature-length) film after "Sen".

      [1]: http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/disney/
  • Please leave Japanese animation *out* of american hands, all they do is cut, censor and destroy the original content...
    • The reason Miyazaki did the contract with Disney, and not the 2 other candidates, is because they were the only ones that wouldn't censor and cut his films. And most of the small anime companies never cut things, unless they're putting them to TV. I've yet to see a film done by a recent anime company that has been cut in any way.
  • although its a somewhat dark film for Mouse

    Well, Disney could have released the film under one of their many other brands [google.com]. Like GM [detnews.com] (Oldsmobile, Buick, Saturn, etc), Disney has many brands. So, if Miyazaki's film is "too dark", then why not just release it under Dimension [dimensionfilms.com] or Miramax [miramax.com]?

    Much like how many people don't know that Pontiac and Oldsmobile are "cousins" (the Grand Am and Alero are almost identical under their skin), most people probably aren't aware that Disney owns these other brands. So, by releasing the movie under a different brand, Disney could give the film a "new image".
  • it never made it into the cineplexes. None of the chains thought it would do well for them, especially people bringing their children in to see a nice cartoony movie and getting Mononoke instead. So in order to see it you'd have to go to some art type theater thats only open one day a week. And most people don't even know about it, let alone care enough to find their local film as art theater.
    • Nope, in Minneapolis it opened in 13+ multiplexes, it received TV ads/newspaper/etc. The concept of "animation for children" was the biggest problem.

      Lawrence Lin -- Team Ghiblink
  • People take their kids to see violent films nowadays. I remember children as young as six when I went to see "Kiss of the Dragon." Talk about family material ...

    What was bizzare about the film is that it was culturally very different. Miyazaki has a small obsession with the relationship with man and nature, and his film go far beyond in exploring this than anything I've seen in the US. Afterall, who in the US would create a God character resembling a deer that gives and takes life as it walks about? It was differences like the above that made it hard for people to swallow, not the "darkness."

    While I'm here, I'll also rant about the dub for Mononoke. Claire Daines as the princess completely ruined it for me. Billy Bob Thorton's southern voice as an old Japanese monk type character put the icing on the cake. What a half-ass job for the voice actors Disney did.

    • >While I'm here, I'll also rant about the dub for Mononoke.
      >Claire Daines as the princess completely ruined it for me.
      >Billy Bob Thorton's southern voice as an old Japanese monk type character put the icing on the cake.
      >What a half-ass job for the voice actors Disney did.

      Jada Smith is the one that bothered me.
    • Yes, people bring younger and younger children to violent films these days, but this really had nothing to do with Mononoke's failure in the American market. American audiences like their movies simple, to the point of one-dimensionality. Look, for instance, at Titanic, which the average viewer will still tell you was a top-notch film: ol' Cal didn't have a redeeming bone in his body; and if DiCaprio could've been a more archetypical ragamuffin/loveable rogue, I'd have to vomit.

      Real people aren't like that. Mononoke's complex characterizations are, frankly, beyond the ability of the average American movie-goer to grasp. It's unfortunate, but true.

      That sealed Mononoke's fate. Put simply, there was no-one to hate. Since Eboshi didn't come with a big sign saying "Villain; Hate this Person," most American viewers couldn't find an interest.

      Do I sound cynical?
    • I must rejoin that Minnie Driver was marvellous as Lady Eboshi. Loved her, I did.
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Saturday August 25, 2001 @01:51PM (#2216360)
    Given the weak treatment Disney gave the theatrical release of Mononoke, I can see why Miyazaki would be concerned. Disney spent a ton of money doing one of the best anime dubs ever, and then released the movie to a handful of arty theatres, most of which were located in major cites. Most of the US population never even had a chance to go see the movie.

    On top of that, advertising was weak, with short commercials restricted to slimly targeted timeslots.

    I almost wonder if Disney did this with Mononoke because they did not realize until AFTER buying the rights that it would be competing with Disney's own animated films, which of late have been generally poor compared to older films, and also bear a heavy semblance to anime style. Perhaps Disney is pushing Miyazaki's work to the back burner to protect the films where they get exclusive profits.
    • Actually, as the article points out, given Disney's prior reputation, Disney bought into Mononoke pretty much sight unseen, thinking it was going to be another family-friendly film. They bought a Porco Rosso in a poke, as it were, and it backfired on them. There's some speculation that Miyazaki maybe have made this dealbreaker film so different at least in part intentionally, out of a dislike of Disney's animated fare, though I could be misremembering on that point.
    • Disney test marketed Mononoke in Minnesota. Full release with advertising to all the mainstream theater chains. It bombed. They decided not to expand to a full release across the country, I don't blame them.

      They really should have chosen a different film to "debut" with. A re-release of Kiki or Laputa would have been a much easier sell. Mononoke is too foreign for American audiences.
  • I HATE watching a great anime when the English dub sucks with those whiny American voices. So I usually switch it to Japanese and turn on the subtitles.

    But, guess what. While the English dub is done in dolby 5.1, the Japanese is done in stereo! AGGGHHH!!! (Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, and Akira come to mind)

    It makes me want to go out and buy the Japanese marketed version to see if it has english subtitles. :(

    You know, I wonder if such movies fail at the box office simply because of the crappy voices. Makes me cringe when I hear them.

    • I do not believe they would purposefully move the soundtrack to stereo if it was originally 5.1. What purpose would that serve? Many times I believe this is because the original program was only in stereo. There is no technical reason that all the tracks can't be 5.1. The companies that ADV and Manga love anime, or else why would they bother to reduce the quality of the sub?
      • Maybe encoding two soundtracks takes up too much space on the DVD disc? Maybe there is extra licensing cost overhead? Maybe there just too lazy to put in the extra effort since they believe the american market won't listen to the japanese version anyway.

        And for the DVD of Mononoke, I can't believe it wasn't released in Japan without dolby. I mean, Sony created that sound standard right? Coupled with the greater Anime following in Japan, surely the DVD titles come encoded in Dolby. That would be pretty pathetic otherwise...

        From now on, I'm gonna try and get a hold of the Japanese released DVD's and hope they are subtitled in English with Dolby 5.1

        Damn those crappy english dubs...
  • I actually read a while ago that Disney was not happy with Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke and wanted him to edit the film to give it a a G rating. Miyazaki declined and said that if he has to edit his films, he will go through another company. I am sure that this upset DEisney quite a bit.
  • I'll be glad when Disney relinquishes their rights to Studio Ghibli's material. I remember the uproar it caused among fans back when Disney first got their grubby hands on Studio Ghibli... I remember that even Miyazaki himself was opposed to the idea. He only went through with it as a favour to his long-time, publisher friend who was in financial trouble and was looking for a way out by selling out to the Mouse.

    What an insult it was to Studio Ghibli to be subjugated under the Disney banner when their artistry was nothing like Disney's. Work coming out of Studio Ghibli has such tremendous quality. It has the power to change lives; this is no joke. I remember watching Porco Rosso for the first time, and damn -- I just felt good about Life after that. It was so fscking beautiful in so many ways. The characters and the interplay between them, the subtlety, the life-like ambiance throughout... their work is so tight. Disney (at least their new stuff)[0] is contrived and formulaic by comparison.

    In the long run, it will be much better this way. The fansubs will become available again, and Miyazaki's work will be more widely available as a result.

    We in the Free Software / Open Source communities should understand better than anyone that wide distribution of information doesn't require big corporations and advertisement. Just let the quality speak for itself.

    [0] As much as I've been coming down on Disney, I have to give props to them for their older work -- that was good stuff.
  • While I liked Mononoke Hime okay, my favorite two films are Kaze no Tani no Naushika and Tenku no Shiro Laputa. (sorry, I only know the movies by their Japanese titles). These were great films. It is very disappointing that I can't share these enjoyable films with my English speaking friends and family.

    In my mind, Disney has no business even touching these films. Disney's talent at story telling and detailed animation cannot touch the likes of these films. It's completely beyond them. I hope somebody eventually gets it right.

    It's also sad that I can only buy these films on VHS even if I travel to Japan. They really need to be released on a region free DVD.
  • regards animation as something only for kids, it can't be helped.

    Well, it is seen as such in my country (guess which), too. But the producers don't pinpoint their focus as much as American ones. In other words, they are not as super-commercial, and directors like Miyazaki has more say in the work.

    The parents are not as crazy as in the US either; e.g. they clearly tolerate the violence in Prince Mononoke.
  • Don't go with Disney. Hayao Miyazaki's 1996 contract only seems to cover Mononoke and not Spirited Away. Also I hate to break it to some of the fanboys but anime is largely a fring/aquired taste here. Expecting mass american acceptance usually means accepting american style marketing, edits, etc.

    Considering where the anime DVD market is right now this thing is going to sell like hotcakes when released. I'd much rather have it on DVD, say in a few months, than wait for 4 theaters to play it nationwide pushing back the DVD release a year.

    The best part of going straight to DVD is you can still have your local arthouse theater showings at midnight and the fanboys and fangirls will come just to see it on the big screen.

    • Yes it does, Disney contributed 10% of the cost of "Sen" for distribution rights outside of Japan.
    • I have to agree, the anime DVD market is ripe for the picking. For instance I am starting an anime club at my commmunity college. One thing we will be purchasing is anime on DVD. Mostly because you get the widest variety of options to play with.

      Example: The Akira DVD came with a capsule option. For those who don't know what that is, it's a capsule that comes up at the bottom of the screen that you can click and it will translate parts of the Japanese writing. Now, for those who have seen Akira it translates to a pretty nice feature. It'll help one to understand the story's progress.

      On another note if Disney is going to market Miyazaki's movies they have to do it right, and stop complaing about how it doesn't sell right. Shoot for a mass-viewing. Showing it to just artsy theaters isn't going to get the press needed. I never even really heard of Princess Mononoke until I found it on my TIVO. How much does that show Disney and there marketing plan?
    • Also I hate to break it to some of the fanboys but anime is largely a fring/aquired taste here.

      Actually a lot of anime has become so much a part of American culture that Joe Sixpack wouldn't think of it as anime. Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Tranzor Z, Gigantor, Battle of the Planets/G-Force, etc.

      I agree though that Miyazaki should do everything in his power to avoid sending his new movie to The Black Hole of Disney.
      Jon Acheson
  • What's truly ironic is that the Princess Monoke DVD is not scheduled for
    release here in Japan until the winter of 2002 (maybe even 2003). There
    was a schedule of sorts attached to the pre-order display for Totoro, but
    I was so shocked at the delay, I forgot the specifics. The Japanese
    auction sites all have several US versions listed (as well as Akira, which
    will cost 9800 yen -- that's >$80!!) when it's released next month).

    Needless to say, region free players are quite common.

    • The "Mononoke Hime" DVD is scheduled for release in Japan this November.[1] It had been listed as a 2002 release, but got moved up.

      [1]: http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/video/release.htm l
  • So if Disney was thinking about family friendly materials, why did they not simply release 'Castle in the Sky' instead? Sure, we know there is that problem with the original title 'Laputa - Castle in the Sky' and that the word 'Laputa' appears a few times in the film, but this is probably the most family friendly, heart warming of all Miyazaki films that would've, in my opinion, done extremely well in the States... There isn't too much of a cultural gap and the characters can be easily related to by all.

    Anyways, I just hope Disney doesn't just hold the rights tightly in their grip and not let others pick up the film for a release, guess the other thing to do will be to write to Disney and complain.

  • Please see this page here [nausicaa.net] for the Japanese DVD release schedule. These discs are all Japanese region, but so far all have English subtitles with excellent translations. You can view them on any region-hacked DVD player, of which plenty are still available. You can get a DVD player such as the Apex AD-703 and flash it with a CDR containing a new rom...presto! no region coding or macrovision. I do not have the primiere mail order place for these discs handy, perhaps someone else can chime in with the URL.

    The Disney translations have generally poor voice acting (even by name celebreties) and have every silent gap filled up with music because "That's what American audiences are used to." Baloney.

    The Castle of Cagliostoro disc is a good buy however, it is released by Manga Entertainment, not Disney. (it's a pre-Ghibli Miyazake film)

    The Japanese Miayzake DVD's are becoming the definitive item to have for the Miyazake collector. Original everything, plus English DVD captioning.

    Also, if you're a huge fan of Laputa: Castle in the Sky like I am, you can get the (surprisingly good!) Streamline Pictures dub on the analog tracks of the Laputa laserdisc in the Miyazake box set. That being said, I now have two pristine fan-subtitled versions as well as the old dub in my hands, so I'm happy for the time being. (please don't email for copies) Streamline was run by Jerry Beck (famed animation historian) and Carl Macek (of Harmony Gold/Robotech fame) which is why you will hear robotech voice actors in their Laputa dub, including none other than the voice actress known as Reba West (English Minmei in Robotech) as the voice of Sheeta. Laputa enjoyed a small art house run in America during the early 90's. Most people don't remember this, but I have all my flyers and and newspaper articles saved. :) Aside from the occasional horrible one-liners, it's a good view. ("We can go all the way...")

    Regarding Miyazake's reluctance for video release, yes, old-time anime fans will remember the horribly slaughtered New World Video release of Nausicaa, a.k.a. Warriors of the WInd, with none other than June Foray (the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirell) as Nausicaa. I don't think she did a bad job, it's just that New World cut 1/2 hour out of the film, removing all the important bits about the overall plot and theme. It's a travesty.

    Cheers, and happy Miyazake-ing,


  • I have to agree, Disney did not promote Mononoke well in the theater.
    I had to drive 20 miles to a large city to see it, in a small theater that its big thing was non-main stream films.
    I bet they spent more money on some of their past duds.
    I think if they had did a main stream release of Kiki's delivery service it would have done well.
    All of the people I have shown my copy of the Disney release and are not anime fans like it..

    I have been looking for the forward to the release of Laputa: Castle in the sky, my thought is they held it up since in some way's similar to Atlantis.

    But then again look at Atlantis, it is not the happy singing disney we have seen in the past.

    I was unhappy back when the Disney deal went through and look's like I will have to wait longer to see the rest of Miyazaki's work done in English.
    • But then again look at Atlantis, it is not the happy singing disney we have seen in the past.

      That's because it was heavily influenced by the Gainax anime series Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water.

      Some fans insist that it was stolen broadcloth a la The Lion King, but not having seen Atlantis, I can't comment.

      Jon Acheson
  • <sarcasm>
    I am glad we in the geek community can maintain such a united front against Disney and the rest of the MPAA even when they produce stuff we crave like anime. I am glad we can resist the urge to let our "geek portal" put up an article which would encourage the consumption of Disney and the MPAA's content right on the front page, with nary a reference to the freedoms that they are taking away. I am glad we don't have people here that want to get lots of DVDs of that stuff, in spite of Johannsen and others who put their livelihood and personal liberty on the line for freedom. I am glad we aren't supporting a technology like DVD which is so entwined with the DMCA, which is the law used to illegally arrest Dmitry Sklyarov under the legal theory that the DMCA has jurisdiction in Moscow.

    Before you mod this down as offtopic, think, what are you supporting here?

    • Geeze... does Slashdot need the equivalent of a Kosher rating to determine what is right to talk about and what is wrong?

      Before you criticize this topic, look back at your day:

      - Did you do anything that involved Microsoft products? Remotely or Directly?

      - Did you listen to music copyrighted by the RIAA?

      - Did you watch any movies coprighted by the MPAA?

      - Did you use any software that isn't free and open sourced?

      ...and so on.

      Unless you wanna be a total hypocrite, you can go live in the woods and eat berries. That's the only way you're not gonna tread on one of these taboo subjects each and every single day.

      Now, is it just me, or is anyone else sick of all this bitching about what we're allowed to and not allowed to support?
  • Why have you not gotten the message that anime is for homos!?

    And by homos I mean not the dick sucking faggot kind, but the lame douche bags who might, and I mean *might*, once in a bazillion years get some pussy, but not likely as even dumb fat chicks are repulsed by anime-dorks "gay" antics that any nearby-poon runs for the hills. They give good honest bone-smugglers a bad image, with their nancy-boy, "ooooh I got a cell from the original Akira series, naaa nanana naaah!"
  • I am a HUGE miyazaki fan. Princess Mononoke is very good, but I think some of his older films (Laputa, Porco Rosso) are even better, and it's sad that none of these videos are being released. It IS true that mononoke bombed (well, it made money, but not the kind of money disney expects), and that dissapointed them from releasing Laputa, which was to be their next theater release. Disney also released one of his movies, Kiki's Delivery service, which is also a very good movie. Go watch it, trust me, you'll love it.

    The problem is that Miyazaki's company picked the wrong company to do the job. It's not their fault, really; They've had very bad luck with exporting their movies.

    To cite an example, his Nausicaa movie was brought over to America by one company. (the manga is better than the movie, BTW, and is commercially available from Viz) That company did a DISQUISTING job of the dubbing, they cut 30 MINUTES of the movie, changed characters names, cut music, dialouge, and did a terrible dubbing job. Ever since then, Miyazaki's lost all interest in bringing his movies over to the states. Then he picked disney, and they botched it too. Sure, they might be the best quality dubbers on the market, but I'd rather settle for a little less quality, and much better consistancy.

    I think it would have been better done by a smaller anime company, such as Manga or ADV. Miyazaki would disagree with me, because he wants his movies to be seen on the big screen, not on televisions. This is a perfect death trap for his movies, because, lets face it folks, Miyazaki is great, but he's not mainstream around here. He's not 'pop culture'. All the diva queens are going to go see American Pie 2 instead of great movies like his, and I guess I don't mind. Who wants to share the same favorite movies with people that like having sex with pies, anyways? So I'm snobby, sue me ;-)

    As for availability, the bootleg market for that stuff is pretty strong. You can find his stuff on popular movie downloading networks, and places like that. My reccommendations are Laputa and Porco Rosso, but they're all gems. It's a shame that he's retiring.

    If you're interested in more info about his movies, go check out http://www.nausicaa.net [nausicaa.net]

  • When Mononoke was released here in Melbourne, Australia I can recall seeing the trailers for it in some cinemas. One thing that I, in my deranged way, found hillarious was the fact that while the "star voices" were being displayed, the cinema had projected "Original Japanese Dialogue - English Subtitles" below the screen ;)

    I'm glad I was never forced to sit through the bullshit redubbing that occurs all to often. Why can't people just be a little less lazy - it's not like it's stressful to read a few lines of dialogue when they're printed on the screen that you're looking at anyway. (Unless you're blind of course, in which case stick with the dubs ;)

  • Disney has already done a full dubbed version of Castle in the Sky, even with a new score by Hisaishi, so why don't they release this movie ? Castle in the Sky is a movie that isn't dark like Princess Mononoke and doesn't contain much violence. Disney mustn't do any cuts to make it family friendly. An DVD/Video release should easily make much more money than letting the dub get old in some desk. A Castle in the Sky release could be sold to all the anime fans out there and to the normal small children disney market too.

    Or another maybe better solution:
    Disney IMHO only owns the VHS and cinema rights to Miyazaki's movies. Couldn't ADV or some other other Anime Video firm buy the DVD release rights for Castle in the Sky ?

  • Honestly, how is paying for the rights for the movies then not releasing them (i.e. taking a loss on the whole package) somehow more profitable than doing moderately-successful releases to DVD?

    This is Disney being irresponsible with their shareholder's money, pure and simple.

    Can someone with the facts tell me, did Disney lose money on Mononoke? I really doubt it.

    If Disney had been releasing the movies one or maybe two a year on DVD, they'd be millions of dollars ahead by now. They could probably recoup their production costs on a subtitled-only DVD via sales at OTAKON alone.
    Jon Acheson

A consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it.