Studio Ghibli debuted the first stills for Hayao Miyazaki‘s latest feature film The Boy and the Heron (Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka, or literally How Do You Live?) on Friday. The film was not marketed with trailers, ads, or TV spots prior to and after its release, and did not have plot summaries, a cast, or most of the staff, with media having to provide details for the film only after its release. The stills represent Studio Ghibli‘s first instance of official marketing for the film.
The film opened simultaneously on IMAX with its general release in Japan on July 14. The film is the first Studio Ghibli film to get a simultaneous IMAX release. The film is also screening in Dolby Atmos, Dolby Cinema, and DTS:X.
The film sold 1.003 million tickets and earned about US$13.2 million in its first three days in Japan. The film sold 1.353 million tickets and earned 2.149 billion yen (about US$15.53 million) in its Friday-Monday long weekend (July 17 was the Marine Day holiday in Japan). The film earned more than Miyazaki’s celebrated Academy Award-winning 2001 film Spirited Away in its first four days, and earned 50% more than his 2013 film The Wind Rises. The film exceeded US$1.7 million from 44 IMAX screens, which is a new three-day opening record, according to entertainment news website Deadline. The film has sold a total of 4,125,000 tickets for a cumulative total of 6,235,444,700 yen (about US$42.88 million) as of last weekend.
GKIDS licensed the film, and it will release it in North American theaters later this year. The New York Film Festival (NYFF) will screen the film’s U.S. premiere as an Official Selection in the Spotlight selection. The 61st NYFF will take place from September 29-October 15.
The film will have its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as the event’s opening film, on September 7 at Roy Thomson Hall. This will mark the first time the festival is opening with an animated film as well as the first time for a Japanese film. The San Sebastian Film Festival (SSIFF) will screen the European premiere in Donostia-San Sebastián’s Kursaal Auditorium in Spain on September 22 after the event’s opening gala. This will mark Miyazaki’s fourth film to screen at SSIFF, and the first time his film is participating at the event’s Official Selection.
The story takes place during World War II. After Mahito loses his mother during the firebombings of Tokyo, he and his father move to the countryside. There, Mahito’s father gets remarried to his late mother’s pregnant sister. As Mahito struggles with his situation, he encounters a talking heron and enters another world based on a promise that he can meet his mother again.
Soma Santoki, who is 18 years old, voices the main character Mahito Maki. Takuya Kimura makes a special appearance. The cast also includes Masaki Suda, Kou Shibasaki, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura, Keiko Takeshita, Jun Fubuki, Sawako Agawa, Karen Takizawa, Shinobu Ōtake, Jun Kunimura, Kaoru Kobayashi, and Shohei Hino.
Miyazaki is credited with the original work, in addition to directing the film and writing the script. Takeshi Honda (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Rebuild of Evangelion films) is the animation director. Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro) composed the music. Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki is the producer. Kenshi Yonezu (Chainsaw Man, My Hero Academia, March comes in like a lion) performs the theme song “Chikyūgi” (Globe).
Miyazaki derived the film from Genzaburō Yoshino‘s 1937 novel How Do You Live?. He added that this book is a story that has great meaning to the protagonist of his film. Algonquin Young Readers released the book in English in October 2021.
Miyazaki officially revealed the film in 2017. Suzuki reported in April 2017 that Miyazaki had been drawing the storyboards for the project since July 2016.