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Miyazaki’s Oscar Winner ‘The Boy and the Heron’ Coming to Max; Streamer Renews Deal for Studio Ghibli Films in U.S.

Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron,” which just won the Oscar for feature animated film, is streaming to Max in the U.S.

Warner Bros. Discovery announced a multiyear agreement with independent distributor GKids to extend Max’s exclusive U.S. streaming rights for films from Studio Ghibli, Japan’s legendary animation house. The streamer has been the U.S. home to Studio Ghibli’s catalog since 2020, when the service originally launched as HBO Max.

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Under the deal renewal, Max will be the future home of “The Boy and the Heron”; the streaming premiere date on Max will be announced later this year. The hand-drawn, semi-autobiographical film — Miyazaki’s first feature film in 10 years — was produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki and features a musical score from Miyazaki’s longtime collaborator Joe Hisaishi.

The extension with GKids also will keep nearly two dozen Studio Ghibli films — including “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Ponyo,” “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” — exclusively on Max in the U.S. for at least the next several years. (A WBD rep declined to disclose the term of the deal renewal.)

“Our subscribers are always looking for unique stories, and we are happy to continue to offer these award-winning, critically acclaimed films and to add ‘The Boy and the Heron’ to our deep and rich Max content offering,” Elizabeth Bannan Atcheson, VP of content acquisitions, Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement.

The Oscar for “The Boy and the Heron” is Miyazaki’s second, after he won the animated feature prize in 2003 for “Spirited Away.” He also accepted an honorary Academy Award in 2014 for “exceptional contributions to cinema.”

GKids released “The Boy and the Heron” in the U.S. on Dec. 8, 2023, in its original Japanese with English subtitles, as well as in a new English-language version featuring the voices of Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, Gemma Chan, Willem Dafoe, Karen Fukuhara, Mark Hamill, Robert Pattinson and Florence Pugh. The film is GKids’ highest-grossing release in its 16-year history, earning over $46 million at the North American box office to date and also hitting the milestone of highest-grossing original Japanese animated film of all time domestically. GKids said it will re-release the film in North American theaters later this month.

Here’s the official synopsis of “The Boy and the Heron”: “After losing his mother during the war, young Mahito moves to his family’s estate in the countryside. There, a series of mysterious events lead him to a secluded and ancient tower, home to a mischievous gray heron. When Mahito’s new stepmother disappears, he follows the gray heron into the tower, and enters a fantastic world shared by the living and the dead. As he embarks on an epic journey with the heron as his guide, Mahito must uncover the secrets of this world, and the truth about himself.”

Below is the list of films available to stream on Max in the U.S., with the date for “The Boy and the Heron” to be announced later:

  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

  • Castle in the Sky (1986)

  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

  • Only Yesterday (1991)

  • Porco Rosso (1992)

  • Ocean Waves (1993)

  • Pom Poko (1994)

  • Whisper of the Heart (1995)

  • Princess Mononoke (1997)

  • My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

  • Spirited Away (2001)

  • The Cat Returns (2002)

  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

  • Tales from Earthsea (2006)

  • Ponyo (2008)

  • The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)

  • From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

  • The Wind Rises (2013)

  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

  • When Marnie Was There (2014)

  • Earwig and the Witch (2020)

  • The Boy and the Heron (2023)

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