Just months after the retirement of its co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, the studio behind the anime masterpieces 'Princess Mononoke' and 'Spirited Away' may disband its animation department and end production.
After several weeks of rumours, Studio Ghibli president Toshio Suzuki shed some light on the situation, confirming that the company is indeed taking a break to restructure and weigh options for the future. He specified that an eventual return to production is not out of the question, however.
"It is by no means impossible to keep producing [movies] forever," Suzuki said during an appearance on Japanese TV, according to the BBC. "However, we will take a brief pause to consider where to go from here."
Nonetheless, the studio's president did not exclude the possibility of disbanding the production team, retaining only a small team devoted to managing the rights to its existing films.
Founded in 1985 by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli has had a profound impact on Japanese cinema and, more generally, on animation worldwide with features such as 'My Neighbor Totoro', 'Princess Mononoke', 'Spirited Away' and the more recent 'The Wind Rises', all directed by Miyazaki.
The outfit has been in a challenging position since Miyazaki's retirement, particularly since it still faces pressure to produce at least one new film per year.
Doubts over the studio's future were compounded by relatively disappointing box office earnings for its two latest features: 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya', which arrives in US theaters on 17 October, and 'When Marnie Was There'.