Gkids has acquired North American rights to Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, the Japanese maestro’s latest feature which Toho is releasing today in Japan as Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka (How Do You Live?). The Boy and the Heron is now the official international title. This all-rights deal marks a continuation of Gkids’ long-standing relationship with the Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli; Gkids will release the original story written and directed by Miyazaki theatrically laster this year.
Little has been revealed about the film from Oscar-winner Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder and Academy Award laureate Toshio Suzuki. It features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi.
The hand-drawn, animated feature is Miyazaki’s first film in 10 years, and is expected to be his last. In an unprecedented decision by Studio Ghibli, no images, trailers, synopses, advertisements, or other information about the movie have been made available to the public prior to its release in theaters in Japan. In keeping with this policy, Gkids says it will not release any further details or marketing materials at this time.
The Japan Times reports lines were getting longer by the minute at a Toho cinema in the Kabukicho district of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward early this morning local time. The film is expected to be a box office marathon, building momentum and maintaining legs.
Suzuki earlier told NHK that the promotional strategy — or lack thereof — was intended to evoke how films released decades ago. “A poster and a title — that’s all we got when we were children. I enjoyed trying to imagine what a movie was about, and I wanted to bring that feeling back,” he told the broadcaster, according to the Japan Times.
Miyazaki has told the media that the film is a farewell letter to his grandson, per the newspaper which describes the movie as a young boy’s journey as he navigates grief and a world unknown. Suzuki has described the film as “fantasy on a grand scale.”
In a 2021 interview with the New York Times Miyazaki said the pic is based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 book of the same name. A BBC report out of Tokyo today says the story is wholly original, though the titles still match. Described by the BBC as a coming-of-age tale, it’s set in Japan during World War II and is “full of Miyazaki’s signature obsessions, quirks and thematic concerns. There are the usual visual treats, like cute yet eerie creatures, great-looking food and gravity-defying flights of fancy.”
Says Gkids President David Jesteadt, “Hayao Miyazaki is a living legend in filmmaking, as evidenced by his Academy Award win for Spirited Away and his two Oscar nominations for Howl’s Moving Castle and The Wind Rises. It’s been ten years since the world has seen a new film from Miyazaki-san, and Gkids is so proud and honored to unveil his latest, highly anticipated masterpiece in North America.”