Studio Ghibli is Helping Make 'The Red Turtle' Movie for Wild Bunch

December 27, 2015

The Red Turtle

So this is the new version Studio Ghibli. No longer producing feature films on their own, they're now an animation collaborator, working with global production companies and filmmakers to help animate their stories. While this news was first reported in April (by Screen Daily), a few weeks ago Studio Ghibli in Japan announced that they're co-producing, with French distributor Wild Bunch, an animated movie called The Red Turtle. Dutch-British animator Michaël Dudok de Wit is directing, along with Japanese animation legend Isao Takahata working as Artistic Producer. Studio Ghibli will release the film in 2016 in Japan.

In the original report from April, Wild Bunch CEO Vincent Maraval explains how this all happened. He met Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli back in 2008, who showed him director Michaël Dudok de Wit's 2000 animated short film Father and Daughter (watch here) which won the Academy Award. Looking back at the discussion now, Miyazaki might've been predicting that Ghibli wouldn't be around much longer, indicating that he was eyeing potential international directors to work with years ago. He tells the rest of the story:

"Around the time of Ponyo I visited Studio Ghibli," recounts Maraval, referring to Miyazaki’s 2008 film. "Miyazaki showed me Father and Daughter and said 'I want you to find [Michaël Dudok de Wit] for me'. I said that would be complicated. He replied, 'If one day Studio Ghibli decides to produce an animator from outside the studio, it will be him'.

Well, that one day is now here. When Ghibli announced it was going to stop making feature films, the big reason was that it just wasn't financially viable for them to keep making them. They needed a new business model. And here we are, the first co-produced project since that announcement. Here's a few more photos:

The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

The description for The Red Turtle calls it a "fantastical tale" about a "man marooned on a desert island whose attempts to escape on a raft are thwarted by a giant turtle that sinks the makeshift craft." Dudok de Wit co-wrote the screenplay with French director Pascale Ferran, best known for Lady Chatterley and Bird People. As exciting as it is knowing that Studio Ghibli is involved, this isn't exactly a "new Ghibli movie". The latest report (via Kotaku) states that Dudok de Wit temporarily relocated to Tokyo to finish the story and storyboards, with Takahta overseeing everything. However, the film is now being animated in France with plans for release in Japan in September 2016. Don't forget, Ghibli had to let most of its animators go, and it's not economical of them to hire most of them for just one project. These are all the details for now.

We'll be keeping an eye on this project, and anything Studio Ghibli is involved with. For now they seem to be laying low, focusing on their filmography, and a few projects like this and Miyazaki's shorts for the museum.

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