HBO Max scores all 21 Studio Ghibli films

HBO’s streaming services have long succeeded on the strength of original programming, but in a post-AT&T acquisition world, the company is having to create a streaming service supergroup of exceptional content to lure consumers into coughing up more cash.

HBO has been on a shopping spree for its HBO Max service. It bought the rights to “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and now it’s using its outsized checkbook to bring beloved Japanese animation group Studio Ghibli’s films onto the web exclusively on its platform for U.S. subscribers.

All 21 films from the studio — including classics like “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” — will be coming in 2020. “The Wind Rises” will be coming to the service in fall of 2020; the rest will come earlier in the spring.

This deal is hugely noteworthy for Studio Ghibli, as their classic films weren’t available to watch or download online legally in any capacity. It also seems that much of that was on purpose, and it seems that this long-held belief was changed with some of that HBO moola.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but here’s what a representative told Polygon this year:

“Studio Ghibli does not make their films available digitally, whether for download or streaming, anywhere in the world… They continue to believe that presentation is vital and particularly appreciate opportunities for audiences to experience the films together in a theatrical setting.”

This is a big win for HBO because anyone would’ve assumed that Studio Ghibli would’ve partnered with Disney, if anyone, for a streaming deal, given their long-term relationship. But HBO Max seems to be keeping the checkbook handy, and won this deal because of it.