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The Disney and Tokuma Deal FAQ

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Disney/Tokuma Deal FAQ (Nov.8, 1999) by Team Ghiblink

This FAQ was put together from the official announcement, newspaper articles, and information posted on the Miyazaki Mailing List. A great many thanks to Mr. TR Olsson from Disney, who provided valuable information to the Miyazaki Mailing List.

Disclaimer: This is not an official site approved by Disney, and the final details are subject to change without notice.

There is a text only version of this page.

Table of Contents

Q: What does this deal include?

1. The global (except Asia, but including Japan) video distribution of the following films:

  • Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa (Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind),
  • Tenkuu no Shiro Lapyuta (Laputa: The Castle in the Sky),
  • Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro),
  • Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service),
  • Omohide Poroporo (Only Yesterday),
  • Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso),
  • Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pom Poko (Pom Poko),
  • Mimi o Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart).
  •  ("Grave of the Fireflies" is not included since Tokuma does not hold the rights to it. It was produced by Shinchosha. English-subbed and dubbed "Grave" is currently available from Central Park Media. "I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves" was not included either, probably because it was made for TV.)

    Theater release of some of these movies are not totally out of question. However, nothing is official yet.

    2. The global (except Asia) theatrical distribution of "Mononoke Hime" (Princess Mononoke).

    3. The global distribution of several live action movies produced by Tokuma, including "Opium Wars" and "Gamera 2".


    Q: When will these movies be available?

    In North America: "Kiki's Delivery Service" has been 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. English subbed version is also available.

    "Mononoke Hime" has been released in the United States and Canada 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 as "Castle in the Sky", as "Laputa" is an offensive word in Spanish. Disney is now considering to release "Castle" in theaters, not just on video, but nothing has been decided yet. Joe Hisaishi is redoing the music to make it more suitable for theatrical release and the American market. The trailer available in "Kiki's Delivery Service" video says that "Caslte" is coming out in 1999, but the official web site of Joe Hisaishi says that he was told by Disney that it is coming out in year 2000. Anna Paquin (The Piano) will play Sheeta, James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek) will play Pazu, Mark Hamill (Star Wars) will play Muska, and Cloris Leachman will play Dola. Mandy Patinkin and Michael McShane are also in the voice cast.

    Disney has no concrete plan for other titles, yet.

    In Japan: Disney (Buena Vista Home Entertainment) has been releasing the sell-through videos of the following films:

  • "My Neighbor Totoro", June 27, 1997.
  • "Whisper of the Heart", July 25, 1997.
  • "Nausicaa", September 19, 1997.
  • "Kiki's Delivery Service", November 21, 1997.
  • "Mononoke Hime", June 26, 1998
  • "Grave of the Fireflies", August 7, 1998
  • "Laputa: Castle in the Sky", September 18, 1998
  • "Pom Poko", December 26, 1998
  • "Porco Rosso" April 23, 1999
  • "Only Yesterday" July 2, 1999.
  • "I Can Hear the Sea" July 23, 1999.
  • Each costs 4,500 yen (excl. tax), and is letterboxed, HiFi stereo (except Nausicaa), and digitally remastered.

    They are in Japanese. Inside information from Disney says that they will eventually be released in Japanese, English, and Japanese/English (a multilingual format for those who want to learn English). However, we do not know when the English versions will become available.

    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 has been news reports in Japan that French and German versions are in production. There is an official French site of Princess Mononoke.

    Other Areas: It has been reported that "Mononoke Hime" will be released in theaters in Brazil and Australia. Portugese dub of Mononoke Hime for the Brazilian market has been completed.

    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.


    Q: Will they be dubbed or subbed?

    Mononoke Hime has been dubbed. However, the subtitled version is not totally out of question when it will be released on video.

    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.

    It is also possible that laserdiscs in this format will be released in other parts of the world for other titles. However, we have to point out that nothing is official yet.

    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" and "Mononoke Hime". 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 "Mononoke Hime", and Disney is reportedly spending about $2.1 million to dub "Mononoke Hime".


    Q: Will they be available on laserdiscs?

    "Kiki's Delivery Service" is available on LD, as well as on video.


    Q: Will they be available on DVD?

    Disney is still talking with Tokuma about the DVD rights. When the initial deal was struck in 1996, Disney was still not sure about DVD's future, so they didn't put the DVD part in the deal. Disney might or might not get the DVD rights, and they might or might not release Ghibli films on DVD.


    Q: Will they be letterboxed?

    The Kiki subbed VHS and laserdisc are letterboxed. (Dubbed version of "Kiki" is pan&scan.)


    Q: 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 have contacted Tokuma, but Disney was the only company who was willing to agree to this term, 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 sent fax to Ghibli, asking if they can cut several scenes from "Mononoke Hime". But nothing was cut from Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke).

    In "Kiki's Dellivery 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.


    Q: Will Disney make animation films with Ghibli?

    Disney invested in the Ghibli's latest movie, "Tonari no Yamada-Kun (My Neighbors the Yamadas)", directed by Isao Takahata. Tokuma ivested 50%, Nippon TV invested 30%, Hakuhoudou (a Japanese advertising agency) invested 10%, and Disney invested 10% of the production coast (2.4 billion yen). In return, Disney acquired the rights to TV, theater, and video release in the US and Europe.


    Q: Will Disney sell Ghibli merchandise such as CDs and toys?

    Currently, 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."

    There are some Princess Mononoke merchandise available from the Miramax's official site.


    Q:Why can't I find Ghibli videos at my local Disney Store?

    It was decided at 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 (who distributes Ghibli videos in the US) cannot bend or break.


    Q: I thought Miyazaki didn't like Disney. Did he sell his soul?

    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.

    FAQ: Ryoko Toyama
    HTML: Jee Hoon Lee
    page icon, table of contents: Michael S. Johnson

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