Collage Maker 13 Dec 2022 12.59 PM

U.S.-based distributor Gkids has acquired North American rights to Japanese animation maestro Miyazaki Hayao’s final movie. It will release it as “The Boy and the Heron.”

The highly-anticipated film released in Japanese theaters earlier on Friday as “Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka” (“How Do You Live”). In an unprecedented decision by producer Studio Ghibli no images, trailers, synopses, advertisements, or other information about the film have been made available to the public prior to its Japanese theatrical outing.

“How Do You Live” has been the movie’s informal English title throughout its production phase, but Gkids says that “The Boy and the Heron” is now the official international title. In keeping with Ghibli’s Japan omerta, Gkids says it will not release any further details or marketing materials at the moment.

The film is understood to be based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 YA book of the same name which tells the story of a 15-year-old boy as he goes on a journey to discovery spiritual growth, poverty and the meaning of life with the help of his uncle, whose advice is communicated to him from a journal. How closely it actually hews to that story is only being discovered by theatrical audiences from Friday.

Gkids indicated that it would give “The Boy and the Heron” a North American theatrical release “later this year.” The picture is also expected to make appearances at various fall festivals. And a late 2023 North American theatrical outing means it has a significant chance of making a run for the Oscars.

The hand-drawn film is written and directed by Miyazaki, produced by the Oscar-winning Studio Ghibli co-founder Suzuki Toshio and features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi.

“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’,’” said David Jesteadt, Gkids president. “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.”

Gkids has handled North American releases of Studio Ghibli’s Oscar-nominated “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” Oscar-nominated “When Marnie Was There,” and “From Up on Poppy Hill.” Since 2017, it has produced the annual Studio Ghibli Fest, a monthly North American theatrical program of Ghibli film screenings in over 800 theaters.

Miyazaki was separately given an honorary award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards in 2014. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures paid tribute to his artwork with a special exhibit when the museum opened in September 2021.

Studio Ghibli last year opened a theme park based on Miyazaki’s works, which features rides and attractions inspired by films such as “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Princess Mononoke.” A “My Neighbor Totoro” stage adaptation by the Royal Shakespeare Company also opened in London, U.K.

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