Studio Ghibli made the point of not doing official advertising for its new Hayao Miyazaki movie, How Do You Live?, which is known in English as The Boy and the Heron. That meant no trailers, no cast announcements, no information on the plot, none of that stuff. But there is still power in the company being Studio Ghibli and the name of Miyazaki, and the un-advertised film nabbed first place in the Japanese box office during its opening.
This was a long weekend in Japan, because Monday was Marine Day (a.k.a Sea Day or Ocean Day). From Friday through Monday, The Boy and the Heron sold a bit more than a million tickets (technically 1.003 million) and made approximately $13.2 million. If you count the full four-day holiday weekend, Friday through Monday, then 1.353 million tickets were bought and approximately $15.53 million was earned.
It has also had a stronger opening weekend than past Ghibli films. In fact, it brought in 50% more during its opening weekend than The Wind Rises made during its opening weekend in 2013.
The movie, which is called Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka in Japanese (which translate to How Do You Live? as opposed to The Boy and the Heron) has been licensed by GKIDS, and will be in American theaters sometime before 2023 is up. When GKIDS made the announcement for their acquisition, they also noted in their press release:
“In an unprecedented decision by Studio Ghibli, no images, trailers, synopses, advertisements, or other information about the film have been made available to the public prior to its release in theaters in Japan. In keeping with this policy, GKIDS will not release any further details or marketing materials at this time.”
It will be interesting to see how The Boy and the Heron does in American theaters and how marketing — or lack thereof — affects how many people see it.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.