Japan’s Studio Ghibli says it will release no trailer and no promotional materials whatsoever ahead of the release of Hayao Miyazaki’s final film. How Do You Live?
The upcoming film, which opens in Japan on July 14, is easily the most anticipated movie coming to Japanese theaters in years — and exceedingly little is known about it (US and international release dates for the film have not yet been set). Ghibli previously described the film as “a grand fantasy” loosely inspired by Japanese author Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 novel. How Do You Live?, a coming-of-age story about the emotional and philosophical development of a young boy after the death of his father. And the studio released one, obscure poster for the film in December (see it below), but it has said nothing else about the movie since — no plot summary, no voice cast, nothing about the film’s setting or characters. In an interview with Japanese magazine Bungei Shunji on Friday, Ghibli’s longtime lead producer Toshio Suzuki, considered Miyazaki’s right-hand man, said nothing more will be revealed about the film before it hits theaters.
Explaining the absence of marking for the upcoming movie, which has already become conspicuous in Japan, Suzuki said: “As part of company operations, over the years Ghibli has wanted people to come see the movies we’ve made. So we’ve thought about that and done a lot of different things for that purpose — but this time we were like, ‘Eh, we don’t need to do that.’”
He added: “Doing the same thing you’ve done before, over and over, you get tired of it. So we wanted to do something different.”
Fans of the legendary anime house, which has long prioritized a pure experience of its works over commercial considerations, will recognize the decision as a very Studio Ghibli-esque move. For years, Ghibli restricted the amount of merchandise that could be licensed and made from its characters, for fear that they might become over-exposed and lose some of their magic. And when the company launched its first long-gestating theme park last year, it limited advanced media access to the park, worried that widespread coverage would make the attraction too popular, which would undercut the gentle appreciation of nature it was designed to generate for visitors. .
In the interview, Suzuki also contrasted Ghibli’s approach How Do You Live? with the usual marketing methods of Hollywood.
“There’s an American movie — ah, I almost said the title out loud! — coming out this summer around the same time [as How Do You Live?],” he said. “They’ve made three trailers for it, and released them one at a time. If you watch all three, you know everything that’s going to happen in that movie. So how do moviegoers feel about that? There must be people, who, after watching all the trailers, don’t want to actually go see the movie. So, I wanted to do the opposite of that.”
Suzuki also revealed that it was a compliment from Miyazaki about the first poster that ultimately convinced him to go with such a bold, barebones approach to releasing the movie.
He explained: “I’ve been involved with our movies since Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), but this was the first time Hayao Miyazaki genuinely praised me. ‘Suzuki-san, this is amazing. This is the best poster you’ve ever made,’ he said. I felt like that was a hint, so I decided ‘Let’s go with just this one poster for the marketing.’ So, no trailers or TV commercials at all… No newspaper ads either. Deep down, I think this is what moviegoers latently desire.”
Studio Ghibli’s only poster for How Do You Live? is below.
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