Why isn’t “Spirited Away” on Netflix?

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Copyright Studio Ghibli

Netflix isn’t streaming Studio Ghibli’s biggest title in their library and sadly, it doesn’t look like it’ll be made available in the near future. Below, we’ll take a look at whether or not Spirited Away is on Netflix if not, where you can stream instead. 

Written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by the world-famous Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away is a coming of age story. Centered around 10-year-old Chihiro Ogino (Hiiragi). After moving to a new neighbourhood Chihiro accidentally enters the spirit world, the witch Yubaba turns Chihiro’s parents into pigs forcing her to take a job in Yubaba’s bathhouse, she must find a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.

Released in cinemas in Japan on the 20th of July 2001, Spirited Away became the eventual winner at the 75th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature. Upon release, it became the top-grossing film in Japan’s history bringing in ¥30.4 Billion and became the first film to make more than $200 Million Dollars at the box office outside the United States. The film lacked marketing upon release in the United States only showing in 151 theatres in 2002 but after the Oscars this had grown to 714 theatres across the country. In the end, it made $289 Million worldwide.

Spirited Away is one of the greatest Anime films of all time. Critically acclaimed and ranked amongst the best films of the 21st Century it surprisingly is one of the hardest films to find on any streaming service. For a film of such great significance, you’d expect any one of the numbers of streaming services today to be available to watch right now but that is just simply not the case.

Why is it not on Netflix?

In the simplest of terms, it’s all to do with licensing. Disney up until 2017 held the licensing for the distribution of home media content for Studio Ghibli, the North American licensing to home media content was then sold to New York-based company GKIDS, while Disney retained the home media content distribution for other countries. Since their purchase of the Studio Ghibli library, GKIDS have re-released all the Studio Ghibli movies on DVD and Blu Ray through their own brand Shout! Factory.

Will they ever stream the Studio Ghibli Library?

I think it is only a matter of time before we could see the Studio Ghibli library released on a streaming service, only having owned the distribution rights for home media for the past year it is very possible GKIDS are in potential talks and is most likely a question of how much is anyone willing to pay to stream the library. There is also a possibility GKIDS may not hold the streaming rights or for digital releases, in fact, this could still be with Studio Ghibli. Once we receive any news regarding the content of their library going digital we’ll make sure that it’s known.

So where can I watch it then?

A simple browse online and you’ll be able to find Spirited Away and the full list of the Studio Ghibli library available to purchase on Amazon, for GKIDS’ Shout! Factory editions you’ll need to access their website directly and purchase them through the website.


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Jacob joined What's on Netflix fulltime in 2018 and serves as one of the lead writers. Jacob covers all things Netflix whether that's TV or movies but specializes in covering anime and K-dramas. Resides in Norwich in the United Kingdom. Contact: jacob@whats-on-netflix.com