When Marnie Was There Disappoints At Japanese Box Office

Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s latest film for Studio Ghibli, ‘When Marnie Was There’, has failed to do good business in its opening week in cinemas, according to Crunchyroll.

Ghibli’s newest anime movie opened on 19 July, and is based on British author Joan G. Robinson’s novel of the same name. It’s a tale of loneliness and centres on a little girl, Anna, and a ghost she befriends.

The film opened on 461 screens and only took 379 million yen (just over £2 million). What’s more, it had to settle for the third spot in the box office chart behind Disney’s ‘Maleficent’ in second, and ’ Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction’ in first.

In fact, Yonebayashi’s prior anime feature, ‘The Secret World of Arrietty’ did significantly better upon its release a few years ago. ‘Marnie’ has failed to do even half as well as ‘Arrietty’ when it was released in 2010. At the time, that took 900 million yen in its opening weekend, shifting 680,000 tickets compared to around 285,000 this time.

The weird thing is, ‘When Marnie Was There’ looks like a genuinely lovely film. It’s got all the ingredients that often spells success for the company, with its gorgeous animation and touching story. The fact that it’s not directed by Hayao Miyazaki will likely play a part in why it wasn’t as well received as his Oscar-nominated picture ‘The Wind Rises’.

The poor performance of Ghibli’s latest could be down to a number of reasons, but with recent rumours that the film production division is set to cease operating, this now appears to be something to be concerned over. In a recent podcast, former producer Toshio Suzuki said that the future of the company actually hinged on whether ‘When Marnie Was There’ was a success, so only time will tell what the founders intend too do production-wise.

Our take on Studio Ghibli’s newest anime, When Marnie Was There【Impressions】

In one way of looking at things, it’s a great time to be a fan of Studio Ghibli. In the course of its history, the famed anime production house has often taken two years between releases, but the recent debut of When Marnie Was There marked the third Ghibli theatrical premiere in the last 12 months.

At the same time, studio co-founder and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement from anime films also has plenty of long-time fans on edge. Still, we weren’t about to pass up the premiere of a new Ghibli movie, so we grabbed a ticket and went to see Marnie for ourselves.

Titled Omoide no Marnie (lit. “Marnie of Memories”) in Japanese, the film is an adaptation of the children’s novel by British author and illustrator Joan G. Robinson. The Ghibli film changes the setting from England’s Norfolk to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, but retains the basic premise of Robinson’s 1967 original. Even protagonist Anna’s name is the same, although the anime gives her the Japanese version of the name written in kanji characters.

Twelve-year-old Anna, voiced by actress Sara Takatsuki in her first anime role, has always had a frail constitution, and as the movie opens is spending the summer convalescing at a seaside village on the Hokkaido coast. In a nearby marsh stands a manor house, where one day Anna meets and befriends a blond-haired girl named Marnie, voiced by fellow anime newcomer Kasumi Arimura.

For Anna, who has largely closed off her heart to others, making a genuine friend is a profound experience, and the focus of the film is the deepening interpersonal relationship between the two girls. As Anna spends more time with Marnie, though, she becomes increasingly conscious of something unusual about her friend. Why is it that Marnie seems to disappear at times, or become suddenly frightened at others?

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Ladies of Ghibli icons

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Studio Ghibli Reportedly To Quit Making Feature Films


This summer, there’s a new Studio Ghibli movie. According to one reported insider, it could be Ghibli’s last.

Studio Ghibli is best known for iconic anime like My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Last year, the creator of many of Ghibli’s best known works, Hayao Miyazaki, retired from making feature animated films.

The purported insider told Japanese site News Cafe that Ghibli’s latest release, When Marnie Was There, “seems like it will be the last [from Studio Ghibli].” The article appeared on Rakuten, one of Japan’s largest web portals. That being said, this is an unconfirmed rumor.

As the insider explained, there was scuttlebutt of the studio’s dissolution last year after Miyazaki retired once completing The Wind Rises. Then, this past spring, longtime Ghibli producer and studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki also stepped down from producing films. He is now Ghibli’s general manager.

“From here on, it appears as though this won’t be a studio that makes new works, but instead, manages its copyrights.”

So, Studio Ghibli won’t be creating new animated works, but rather, making money off the anime its created so far.

The insider added animated films required tremendous amounts of money, so there is pressure for the films to be successful so Ghibli can cover its costly production expenses as well as, I’d imagine, remain healthy and profitable. By the insider’s count, each film apparently needs to make at least ten billion yen (US$100 million) to cover all its production costs as well as, I’d imagine, turn a healthy profit. Even with a relatively small staff, the insider puts Ghibli’s annual labor expenses at supposedly two billion yen ($19.7 million). Note: These numbers are unconfirmed.

Last fall, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest papers, reported that while other animation studios have shipped jobs overseas to save money, Studio Ghibli had hired more permanent full-time employees in Japan, making the films incredibly expensive to make. Asahi reports that even though The Wind Rises had made 9.23 billion yen ($91 million), the film had apparently yet to turn a profit. The Tale of Princess Kaguya, apparently, cost even more to create.

"The Tale of Princess Kaguya from director Isao Takahata made 5.1 billion yen ($50 million), and for the studio, it was a flop," the source told News Cafe. "There’s no choice but to dissolve the studio, because it’s unable cross the high hurdle of announcing a new film on an annual basis."

A bright point is that Goro Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki’s son, is directing Ghibli’s first animated TV series, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter. The computer animated series is a co-production, however, with Polygon Pictures and will debut this fall. The dark cloud is that back in 2010, Hayao Miyazaki did mention breaking up the studio.

"Suzuki-san is making a dissolution program for Ghibli," Miyazaki told Cut Magazine (via Bleeding Cool and Nausicaa.net). "No joke, we talked about it the other day. For example, Ghibli should be able to continue with about five staff members as a copyright management company even if we smash the studio. So, Ghibli can say ‘We stop film production. Goodbye’. I do not have to be there."

The latest Studio Ghibli film When Marnie Was There was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and recently released in Japan. Let’s hope it’s not the last Studio Ghibli film.

Kotaku has reached out to Studio Ghibli regarding this latest rumor and will update this story should the studio comment.

マーニーがラスト? ジブリが解散?! [Infoseek]

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Whisper of the Heart Samsung Note Backgrounds for 

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The Teddy Bear Museum 那須 テディベア · ミュージアム Nasu

"Located in the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, this small museum offers one of the largest and most exotic collections of the world. At the entrance a huge talker Teddy welcomes visitors and enables step for this curious collection. In the quarter we find old teddy bears and more current versions who dress like Indiana Jones or Batman. One of the most prized possessions of the museum is the Teddy Edward collection, based on the books of Patrick and Mollie Mathews and featuring teddy trips to locations around the world.

The second floor of the exhibition features the huge Nekobasu (ネコバス), who welcomes us willing to take that dream world. The exhibition includes material on "Tonari no Totoro" (となりのトトロ), but the real star is only a few steps away. A huge stuffed Totoro (almost 3 meters high) that expects us to be embraced and perpetuate the moment with a photograph (umbrella borne by the museum). It is then that one would like to be small again and recover from a kick all the magic.

The details are everywhere. The Makurokurosuke, soot sprites that appear at the beginning of the film, hanging from the ceiling of the second floor and another version of Nekobasu invites large and small to get on him to embark on a magical journey. The essence lies in the forest where Totoro is concentrated in this small museum, located just a few kilometers north of Tokyo. Isn’t it beautiful?”

(I google translated and edited this article because i thought it was pretty great :D )

‣ news  

Artsy references from the Animators desk in the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka.

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'When Marnie Was There' Official Japanese Trailer

Or you can view the 1080p version here.

English translation:

Anna: In this world, there’s a magic circle that no one else can see. There’s an inside and outside to that circle, and I’m one of the outsiders. But that doesn’t matter. I… hate myself. 
Text: I’m waiting for you at that creek. Forever… 
Text: A work by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi 
Text: Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There) 
Marnie: Are you OK? 
Anna: Yeah. 
Anna: Are you really a human? You look exactly like the girl who appeared in my dream… 
Marnie: Dream? This isn’t a dream. 
Marnie: Hey, please promise me. Let’s keep our friendship a secret. 
Anna: Yeah. It’s a secret. Forever. 
Text: I love you so much. 
Anna: Marnie… That’s too cruel! 
Marnie: Anna! My beloved Anna! 
Anna: Why did you leave me!? Why did you betray me!? 
Marnie: Anna, please! Please tell me you forgive me! 
Anna: Of course I forgive you! I like you! Marnie! 
Text: Omoide no Marnie: When Marnie Was There

Tales from Earthsea (2006)