Studio Ghibli’s latest anime film When Marnie Was There directed by 41-year-old Hiromasa Yonebayashi opened in Japan with 461 screens on July 19 and earned a very disappointing 379,000,000 yen (about US$3,734,000) with 285,200 ticket sales in its first weekend. It took third place in the weekend box office following Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction in 1st and Maleficent in 2nd. The result was only 42% of his first feature film The Secret World of Arrietty, which made about 900,000,000 yen with 680,000 tickets in its opening weekend on July 17-18, 2010, in 447 screens.
For the past couple of weeks, it has been strongly rumored that Toshio Suzuki, Ghibli’s producer and co-founder, is now seriously considering the closure of the anime production division of the internationally acclaimed studio, after the retirement of his long-time colleague Hayao Miyazaki. In the latest episode of his “Ghibli Asemamire” podcast posted on June 27 before the release of the film, he actually said that the future of Ghibli depended on the results (both box office and critics) of When Marnie Was There.