The Disney-Tokuma Deal
(last update: September 10, 2003)
A brief disclaimer
The Disney-Tokuma Deal is an agreement made in 1996 between the Walt Disney Corporation and Tokuma Publishing. As a result of this agreement, Disney was granted:
The agreement between Tokuma and Disney has evolved over time to include items not covered under the original plan.
These changes were never formally announced and we can only guess at the current state of the deal.
In North America: "Kiki's Delivery Service" was video released on September 1, 1998. It is also available on Laserdisc. Kirsten Dunst (as Kiki), Phil Hartman (as Jiji), Debbie Reynolds (as Madam), Janeane Garofalo (as Ursula) and Mathew Lawrence (as Tombo) are in the voice casts. "Kiki" has been also shown at various film festivals around the US, including Seattle, Nashville, Florida, Atlanta, and Hawaii. An English subtitled version is also available.
"Mononoke Hime" was released in the United States and Canada as "Princess Mononoke" on October 29, 1999 by Disney-owned Miramax [official site]. The voice cast includes Claire Danes (Romeo & Juliet, The Rainmaker) as San, Gillian Anderson (X-Files) as Moro, Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting) as Eboshi, Billy Crudup (Sleepers) as Ashitaka, and Billy Bob Thornton (Slingblade) as Jiko Bou [more information].
"Laputa, Castle in the Sky" has been renamed "Castle in the Sky", because "Laputa" is an offensive word in Spanish. Disney was considering releasing "Castle" in theaters, not just on video, but eventually decided on a video-only release. Joe Hisaishi rescored the soundtrack in Seattle in 1999 to make it more suitable for a North American theatrical release and the American market. The trailer available in the "Kiki's Delivery Service" home video said that "Castle" would be released on video in 1999, but various factors pushed the release back to 2003. Anna Paquin (The Piano) plays Sheeta, James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek) plays Pazu, Mark Hamill (Star Wars) plays Muska, and Cloris Leachman plays Dola. Mandy Patinkin and Michael McShane are also in the voice cast.
"Spirited Away" was dubbed into English under the supervision of John Lasseter. The film was released in theaters on September 20, 2002, and on DVD on April 15th, 2003 after receiving the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
In Japan [see schedule at left]: Disney (Buena Vista Home Entertainment) has been releasing the sell-through videos and DVDs of the following films:
Each costs 4,500 yen (excl. tax), letterboxed, with HiFi stereo (except Nausicaa), and is digitally remastered.
For additional information on release dates and features, please visit our Video pages.
In Europe: "Mononoke Hime" was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival on Feb. 11, 1998. It has been also reported that MH will be released in UK, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. There have been news reports in Japan that French and German versions are in production. There is an official French site for Princess Mononoke.
Other Areas: A Portuguese dub of Mononoke Hime was completed and included on the Japanese DVD. However, the film has yet been released in Brazil in theaters or on video.
In Asia: The Disney-Tokuma deal does not include the Asian market (except Japan). Tokuma still retains the rights to the Asian market. "Mononoke Hime" was shown in theaters in Hong Kong and Taiwan in August, 1997.
Subtitles vs. Dubbing
"Princess Mononoke"'s foreign releases have been available both subtitled and dubbed, depending upon the language. The English theatrical release was dubbed. However, the DVD is confirmed to contain English and French subtitles.
Disney has released a English-subbed VHS of "Kiki's Delivery Service" in the US in September, 1998.
The laserdisc of "Kiki's Delivery Service" includes original Japanese language track with English closed captioning, though they are based on the dub script.
Four of the Ghibli films have already been dubbed into English by Carl Macek, but Disney is going to redub all of them, including "Totoro", which was considered to be an excellent dub, even by dub-haters. Since Disney has vast experience in dubbing (not to mention money), we are expecting the new dubs to be superbly done. Disney hired "Class A talent" to dub "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Castle in the Sky", "Princess Mononoke", and "Spirited Away". Inside information from Disney says that Disney is spending 10 times the money when compared to the average anime dubbing job. Neil Gaiman, the writer of "The Sandman", has worked on the English script of "Princess Mononoke", and Disney reportedly spent about $2.1 million to dub "Princess Mononoke".
"Kiki's Delivery Service" is available on LD, as well as on DVD/VHS. No other films are available on LD.
When the original deal was struck in 1996, Disney was still not sure about DVD's future, so they didn't negotiate DVD rights as part of the deal. Disney has since negotiated for the DVD rights to "Princess Mononoke" and all other films in the Disney-Tokuma Deal. Please visit the Video Release page for the latest information.
Letterbox vs. Pan & Scan
The "Kiki" subbed VHS and laserdisc are letterboxed. All DVD releases are presented in their Original Aspect Ratio.
Will Disney modify (i.e. cut scenes from) these films?
No. This will not happen. Disney can not cut even one second from the films, according to the contract. Ghibli has officially stated that "With Disney's commitment to maintain the quality of the original titles, there will be no changes to music and sequences in foreign language versions." According to Mr. Suzuki, the producer of Ghibli, other companies such as Fox and Time-Warner contacted Tokuma, but Disney was the only company willing to agree to this condition, and that was the main reason why Tokuma chose Disney as a partner.
The term means that Disney can not touch the films, but that does not prevent Disney from asking Ghibli to cut or change the contents of the film, as Tokuma and Ghibli retains the editing right. In an interview, Mr. Suzuki said that Miramax faxed Ghibli, asking if they could cut several scenes from "Mononoke Hime". But nothing was cut from Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke).
In the "Kiki's Delivery Service" English dub, the opening and the ending songs were changed, and several music scores were added (to the scenes with no music in original). However, nothing was cut, and nothing was greatly changed.
"Tonari no Yamada-Kun (My Neighbors the Yamadas)" a film directed by Isao Takahata, was released in 1999. Among the investors for this movie, Tokuma Shoten invested 50%, Nippon TV invested 30%, Hakuhoudou (a Japanese advertising agency) invested 10%, and Disney invested 10% of the production cost (2.4 billion yen). In return, Disney acquired the rights to TV, theater, and video release in the US and Europe.
"Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)" was released in Japan on July 20th, 2001. Disney contributed 10% of the production costs in return for distribution rights, so there is a high likelihood of Disney (or a subsidiary) releasing it in other countries around the world. [Source]
Disney only has video and movie distribution rights, not merchandising rights of Ghibli films. That doesn't mean that Disney can not negotiate with Tokuma to expand the deal. Mr. Tokuma has stated, "Eventually, we will cooperate in such fields as magazines, CDs, and game software."
Regarding Ghibli videos and merchandise at Disney retail stores: It was decided at a higher level than those who are actually dealing with Ghibli videos that the Disney Store chain will not carry them. Apparently, the Disney Store has rules that Buena Vista Home Entertainment (which distributes Ghibli videos in the USA) cannot bend or break.
Did Miyazaki sell his soul to Disney?
Miyazaki stated that he didn't like the movies by Toho or Toei either (they are the Japanese movie companies which have been distributing the Ghibli films). He distinguishes between film production and film distribution. He also stated that he had agreed to the deal mainly to help Tokuma, which had backed him when he was starting out. He said he has earned enough money to last him a lifetime.