Studio Ghibli has released a trailer for its new film – but many of the studio’s fans are refusing to watch it.
The Japanese animation studio is lining up the international release of the final film from 82-year-old retiring director Hayao Myazaki, titled The Boy and the Heron.
Ahead of the film’s release in Japan, Studio Ghibli released just one poster in promotion and, in a rare turn of events, made the decision to refrain from unveiling any trailers or footage.
The gamble paid off, with many relishing the opportunity to see a new film without knowing anything about it. The Boy and the Heronbroke a Studio Ghibli record at the Japanese box office despite – or perhaps owing to – the lack of marketing.
Those in other territories are now hoping to enjoy the same novel experience, but due to its release in Japan, this unique way of watching the film without any prior knowledge is harder to emulate. Making matters tougher is the fact that a teaser trailer for the film has been released. Despite being tempted, however, many are deciding to abstain from viewing it.
“Nope. not watching that BOY AND THE HERON trailer. not a damn frame until i’m in that theatre,” one fan wrote. Another added: “Not watching that new trailer of The Boy and the Heron. I’m going full no exposure when I’m going to watch this in theaters!” Menawhile, one prospective viewer wrote: “I'm not watching any advertisement to the boy and the heron, it's what Ghibli intended.”
It’s worth nothing that, while many believe this is how the studio “intended” the film to be seen, its official Twitter account has shared the clip online.
NEW MIYAZAKI MOVIE « THE BOY AND THE HERON » TRAILER pic.twitter.com/asChjbaQw1
— Studio Ghibli Pictures (@ghiblipicture) September 6, 2023
Those who are proceeding to watch it – and no judgement: do what you want to do! – are praising the film’s visuals, with many comparing the opening to 1988 war animation Grave of the Fireflies.
While the mysterious nature of the marketing campaign has paid off, Mayazaki expressed his doubts over the tactic, which was devised by Studio Ghibli president, Toshio Suzuki.
He said at the opening of the Ghibli Exhibiti at Warehouse Terrada, as reported by Comicbook.com: “I wonder if it'll be okay without publicity. I am beginning to worry. I do believe in you, Mr Suzuki. But I'm concerned, that's all."
Speaking about the decision to eschew traditional marketing campaigns ahead of the film’s launch, Suzuki told Japanese magazine Bungei Shunji that the company had wanted to “do something different”.
“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 said.
“Doing the same thing you’ve done before, over and over, you get tired of it. So we wanted to do something different.”
The Boy and the Heron, which was previously titled How Do You Live?, will receive its UK premiere athe BFI London Film Festival in October. It will be released by distributor GKIDS wordlwide. An exact release date is yet to be announced.
Mayazaki founded Studio Ghibli alongside Suzuki and fellow director Isao Takahata in 1985. Their films, which are available to stream on Netflix, include Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and The Tale of Princess Kaguuya.