The Walt Disney Company (often known simply as Disney), is the second largest media and entertainment conglomerate in the world (just behind Comcast), known for its family-friendly products. Founded in 1923, by brothers Walt and Roy Disney as an animation studio, it has become one of the biggest Hollywood studios, owner and licensor of eleven theme parks, a cruise ship line, several television networks (including ABC and ESPN), Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., and Marvel Entertainment.
Ocean Waves was not included, probably because it was a film made specifically for television. Disney was unable to license Grave of the Fireflies due to the fact the film was not produced by parent company Tokuma Shoten, but by Shinchosha, the publisher of the original novel. Disney Japan however do own the rights to both films in Japan.
In August 1996, Tokuma Shoten, the parent company of Studio Ghibli at the time announced that Disney would distribute the Studio Ghibli libary worldwide, and that Disney also had the rights to distribute Princess Mononoke theatrically outside Japan. Disney would go on to dub and distribute most Studio Ghibli films as well as re-dub the films that were dubbed prior to the Disney/Tokuma deal.
In Japan, Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan (Now Walt Disney Studios Japan) had the rights to distribute Studio Ghibli products for home media, which Tokuma Communications previously self-distributed. This partnership continues to this very day.
By the 2000s, other foreign companies would acquire the Studio Ghibli rights in their their own countries. The main international sales rights were sold to German based company Wild Bunch, who would allow other companies to release the library in the country they traded in. Disney/Buena Vista remained the distributor for the films in France, Taiwan and the United States.
In 2011, Disney sold the North American theatrical rights to the Studio Ghibli catalogue to New York based distributor GKIDS as they felt that they no longer needed them. GKIDS has re-released the films in cinemas a numerous amouunt of times, more so then Disney had ever done. In 2013, Disney US refused to distribute Studio Ghibli’s then recent film From Up on Poppy Hill (they however still distributed the film in Taiwan, France and Japan home media though) and instead sold the film to GKIDS for distribution both theatrically and on home media (through Cinedigm). This as the first Studio Ghibli Movie since Princess Mononoke not released as a Disney product. Disney however distributed The Wind Rises though their Touchstone Pictures Label, Which was the last Studio Ghibli film released through Disney in the US.
Other Studio Ghibli films, like The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie was There, Only Yesterday and Ocean Waves were also distributed through GKIDS, with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment handling distribution. In 2017, GKIDS fully took over distribution of the Studio Ghibli catalogue in the United States with the acceptation of Grave of the Fireflies (As it’s not directly a Studio Ghibli film in many countries, as the rights to the film remain with the book’s publisher and not Tokuma) and The Wind Rises (As the movie is still fairly recent). GKIDS have since re-released all the Studio Ghibli films on DVD and Blu-Ray under their branding, through Shout! Factory. In 2018 GKIDS acquired the theatrical rights to Grave of the Fireflies, but the home media rights still remain within Sentai Filmworks.
After GKIDS bought all the Studio Ghibli films, Disney no longer holds the rights to the library in North America, they continue to do so in theatrically France and Taiwan (through Deltamac, who distributes Disney's movies in the region), while Walt Disney Studios Japan still continue to remains the exclusive Japanese distributor of Ghibli's library on Home Media.
Studio Ghibli Movies dubbed and distributed by Disney
- My Neighbor Totoro (re-dubbed)
- Howl's Moving Castle
- The Secret World of Arrietty (dubbed by The Kennedy/Marshal Company for Disney)
- Whisper of the Heart
- Tales from Earthsea
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky (re-dubbed)
- Ponyo (dubbed by The Kennedy/Marshal Company for Disney)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (re-dubbed)
- Spirited Away
- Princess Mononoke
- My Neighbors the Yamadas
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (re-dubbed to its proper length)
- Porco Rosso (re-dubbed)
- Pom Poko
- The Cat Returns
- The Wind Rises (dubbed by The Kennedy/Marshal Company for Disney)
Films in which Disney are credited in
As Buena Vista Home Entertainment
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
- Spirited Away (2001)
- The Cat Returns (2002)
- Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
- Tales from Earthsea (2006)
- Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008)