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‘Most Expensive Japanese Film’: Hayao Miyazaki’s How Do You Live Breaks Records With Highest Production Cost

In a surprising revelation by producer Toshio Suzuki, the production cost of the latest Studio Ghibli film ‘How Do You Live?‘ might just be unparalleled in the history of Japanese cinema.

How Do You Live

This bit of information was revealed by him during a recent talk show Hiroyuki no Ikisakimitei, surprising even the hosts, who responded with, “Is that so?”.

“I believe that this film probably had the highest production cost of any film ever made in Japan,” proclaimed Suzuki.

Although no official numbers were revealed, it definitely is more than the production costs of “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya“, which was the Ghibli film and also the Japanese film with the highest production cost up until now with 5.15 billion yen.

Considering this, it is also possible that ‘How Do You Live‘ is still yet to hit the profit margins of previously commercially successful Ghibli movies as it has only earned 6.235 billion yen ($43.014 million) in its first month of release.

Moreover, when asked about the strategy of “zero promotion,” Suzuki responded, “It was a gamble. We’ve been making films for a long time, and I wanted to change the way films are made and how they are promoted. I thought about it six years ago and wrote about it in a magazine called ‘Tosho’ by Iwanami Shoten. I wanted to try making a film without a deadline. And then I thought about what would happen to Hayao Miyazaki“.

Suzuki mentioned that the film took about seven years to complete the film.

How Do You Live?, released in Japan on July 14, 2023. It became the first ever Studio Ghibli film to get simultaneous IMAX release.

In its initial three days of release in Japan, the film sold about 1.003 million tickets, generating approximately US$13.2 million in revenue.

Joe Hisashi has been roped in to compose music for the anime film. The film will feature 37 soundtracks including the theme song. Kenshi Yonezu performed the film’s theme song, “Chikyuugi”.

Soma Santoki voiced the main character Mahito Maki.

Masaki Suda, Kou Shibasaki, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura, Keiko Takeshita, Jun Fubuki, Sawako Agawa, Karen Takizawa, Shinobu Otake, Jun Kunimura, Kaoru Kobayashi, and Shohei Hino are among the talented actors lending their voices to the film’s characters.

Breaking away from traditional marketing strategies, Studio Ghibli took a bold approach with the film’s release in Japan. The studio deliberately refrained from promoting the film with any materials or descriptions

How Do You Live? is inspired by the 1937 novel of the same name by Yoshino Genzaburo. He added that this book is a story that has great meaning to the protagonist of his film.

The setting of the film is Second World War-era England. The sickness that claimed his mother affects book-loving 12-year-old David. He starts to hear book whispers and see images of an odd kingdom while being tormented by loneliness. One day he stumbles into that world, guided by the voice of his dead mother. Red Riding Hood gives birth to a werewolf after falling in love with a wolf, an ugly Snow White, and an evil guy who abducts children. Fairytale creatures and mythical monsters are moving in this lovely yet dreadful world of tales. A mystery journey and a boy’s maturity in conquering challenges in this tale of extraterrestrial adventure.

In October 2017, Studio Ghibli announced the film would be titled “How Do You Live?. Studio executive, Toshio Suzuki said that Miyazaki is working on the film for his grandson as his way of saying, “Grandpa is moving onto the next world soon but he is leaving behind this film”.

In December 2020, Suzuki stated that the film was in work with no deadlines, similar to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013), which took eight years to make.

He said that the animation was half-finished with production running faster, due to COVID-19 restrictions requiring them to work at home, and the film will be 125 minutes long.

Source: Livedoor News