In a recent interview with Manabu Shintani on June 2, 2023, Studio Ghibli veteran producer Toshio Suzuki revealed that they have decided to not release any trailer or other promotional materials for the upcoming film of Hayao Miyazaki, ‘How do you live?‘.
The only thing the audience will receive is the name and the previously revealed poster for the film, even though this is the first anime movie Miyazaki will be directing since the release of The Wind Rises in 2013.
According to Suzuki, the studio wanted to try something new as they were getting tired of the age old tradition of hyping the movie up before its release by promoting it in various ways.
In order to break that, they took a different approach with ‘How do you live?’. They also felt that it’d be good for the movie industry.
When Shintani pointed out that fans get excited by the prospect of pre-release information, Suzuki retorted asking, “Right, but why? So you end up going to see a movie just to confirm what you already knew about it?…If that’s how it’s going to be, I figured just one poster is enough [for How Do You Live?]”.
He justified his statement by giving an example of an American movie, the name of which remains undisclosed, which will release around the same time as Miyazaki’s new film.
According to Suzuki, the American film released a total of three trailers one at a time, and that if someone where to watch all three, they could easily make out everything that is going to happen in the movie. This might lead to moviegoers not wanting to go watch the movie anymore.
Suzuki wanted take the opposite approach of that. He felt that with just the poster and a title, the imagination of the fans will be stirred.
“There’s an American movie…ah, I almost said the title out loud, coming out this summer, about the same time [as How Do You Live?]. So 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 the movie. So how do moviegoers feel about that? There must be people who, after watching all the trailers, don’t want to go see the movie [anymore]. So I wanted to do the opposite of that.“
However, Suzuki also revealed that he wanted to create another poster for the film, but something Miyazaki said changed his mind.
After the initial poster was created, Miyazaki, for the first time, genuinely praised Suzuki saying that this was the best poster he’s ever created, despite him being involved in other movies with the director.
This made Suzuki make up his mind to just go with one poster for marketing.
“I’ve been involved with our movies since Nausicaa [released in 1984], but this was the first time Hayao Miyazaki genuinely praised me. ‘Suzuki-san, this is amazing. It’s the best [poster] you’ve ever done,’ 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 trailer or TV commercials at all…No newspaper ads either. Deep down inside, I think this is what moviegoers latently desire.“
Although Miyazaki was initially sceptical about this approach, he eventually came around.
How Do You Live?, will open in the Japanese theatres on July 14, 2023.
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.