Despite an unconventional marketing approach, The Boy and the Heron have significantly impacted Japan, which leads to speculation of a Venice Film Festival premiere. In this article, we will delve into the success of Miyazaki’s latest masterpiece and explore what makes it so remarkable.
In an unprecedented move, Studio Ghibli decided to forgo traditional marketing efforts for ‘The Boy and the Heron.’ There were no trailers, TV ads, or even an announced plot summary or cast. This decision left Miyazaki, the legendary animator behind the film, with some concerns. However, Ghibli’s co-founder and president, Toshio Suzuki, stood firmly by this strategy, believing that the lack of information would become a distinct form of promotion. While the success of this approach was uncertain, Suzuki’s conviction never wavered.
How much did it earn on the opening weekend?
The release of ‘The Boy and the Heron’ on Friday shattered any doubts and exceeded all expectations. The film earned an impressive $13.2 million (1.83 billion yen) from Friday to Sunday, making it the highest-grossing opening in Studio Ghibli history in yen. This record surpassed the previous benchmark set by ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ in 2004, which debuted at 1.48 billion yen. When accounting for the historical weakness of the yen compared to the dollar, ‘The Boy and the Heron’ earned slightly more than ‘Howl’s Moving Castle,’ totaling $14 million.
GKIDS is honored to announce the acquisition of North American rights to THE BOY AND THE HERON, the new film from Hayao Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli.
— GKIDS Films (@GKIDSfilms) July 14, 2023
Though major Western outlets have yet to review the film, Japan-based media have praised ‘The Boy and the Heron.’ Described as visually stunning and filled with profound philosophical messages, the movie offers an extraordinary experience. The film has been lauded for its adult and enigmatic themes, showcasing a different side of the Ghibli catalog. Repeating viewings might be necessary to fully appreciate its depth, as it reveals new layers with each watch.
Will ‘The Boy and the Heron’ Be a Long-Term Success?
While a strong opening is undoubtedly significant, the Japanese theatrical market tends to favor movies with lasting impact. Word of mouth and sustained viewer interest often contribute to a film’s success in Japan. How ‘The Boy and the Heron’ will fare in the long run remains to be seen, but the initial reception bodes well for its future prospects.
Audiences outside Japan eagerly await the release of ‘The Boy and the Heron.’ North American fans can expect the film to be distributed by GKIDS later this year. Additionally, industry insiders are buzzing about the possibility of an international premiere at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Miyazaki’s previous works, including ‘Howl’s Moving Castle,’ ‘Ponyo,’ and ‘The Wind Rises,’ all received their first screenings outside of Japan at this popular event.