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Was Ghibli right not to market Hayao Miyazaki’s new anime? Opening box office data is in

6 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

July 14 was the opening date for "How Do You Live?," the newest anime movie from Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki. It’s the first Miyazaki anime in 10 years, following his initially intended retirement after 2013’s "The Wind Rises," and also the first Ghibli theatrical anime since "When Marnie Was There" was released in 2014.

But "How Do You Live?" which will be titled "The Boy and the Heron" when it makes its way to English-speaking countries, is the first Ghibli anime ever to be released with no trailer, TV commercials, or any other sort of preview or hints about its story, setting, or characters.

Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki decided on the bold marketing strategy of doing no marketing at all, aside from a single poster showing a close-up of a bird creature or costume.

Suzuki said his intent was to avoid what he sees as a problem of modern movie marketing, in which previews and press releases show so much that when it comes time to actually watch it, moviegoers are really just confirming what they already knew was going to happen. By keeping the details of "How Do You Live?" under wraps, Suzuki wants audiences to go in with no preconceptions about what they’re about to see. “Deep down inside, I think this is what moviegoers latently desire,” Suzuki said.

▼ Poster for "How Do You Live?"

Screen-Shot-2023-07-20-at-8.51.12.png
Photo: Studio Ghibli

But was Suzuki right? With July 14 falling on a Friday and the following Monday being a national holiday in Japan, "How Do You Live?" distributor Toho has now released the movie’s ticket sales data from its first four days. Between July 14 and July 17, "How Do You Live?" made 2.14 billion yen at the box office. That’s 50-percent more than "The Wind Rises" made in its first four days, and also more than 2001’s "Spirited Away" made in its first four days, despite both of those older films having full marketing campaigns.

"The Wind Rises" and "Spirited Away" were also July releases, both coming out on July 20, which was a Friday in both 2013 and 2001, though "The Wind Rises" first four days in theaters didn’t include a national holiday ("Spirited Away’s" did). Considering that Japan has had relatively little inflation in movie ticket prices over the last few decades, "How Do You Live?" having a stronger opening than "The Wind Rises" and "Spirited Away" seems like a sign that the no-marketing marketing plan was a smart decision.

But there’s another question to consider, though, which is how much the anime movie sector itself has grown in those years. In 2001, anime movies were still a small niche, with most works being of interest only to little kids (like annual "Doraemon" or "Crayon Shin-chan" installments) or hard-core otaku ("Cowboy Bebop: Kockin’ on Heaven’s Door" or "Di Gi Charat – A Trip to the Planet"), the latter of which were a much smaller demographic in Japan 20 years ago. Even 2013 largely predates the current pop culture climate in Japan where anime movies draw huge crowds and smash-hits like the films of Makoto Shinkai and "Demon Slayer: Mugen Train" become mainstream moviegoing phenomena.

So maybe the better thing to do is to compare the opening for "How Do You Live?" not to other Ghibli works, but to other big-name anime movies from a more recent time frame. Unfortunately, "How Do You Live?" opening on a holiday weekend and Toho releasing the revenue for its first four days makes it hard to directly compare its start with films with a more conventional opening tally, but here’s what Japanese box office data we do have.

● "Detective Conan: Black Iron Submarine" (2023): 3.146 billion yen in 3 days

● "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" (2023): 1.843 billion yen in 3 days

● "One Piece Film Red" (2022): 2.25 billion yen in 2 days

● "Suzume" (2022): 1.884 billion yen in 2 days

● "The First Slam Dunk" (2022): 1.296 billion yen in 2 days

● "Jujutsu Kaisen 0" (2021): 2.694 billion yen in 3 days

● "Demon Slayer Mugen Train" (2020): 4.623 billion yen in 3 days

With Ghibli’s reputation for producing the finest animation in Japan, it might be startling to see it getting out-earned by a billion yen, and that in one less, by an annual "Detective Conan" movie. "Jujutsu Kaisen 0" also only needed three days to outpace the opening weekend tally for "How Do You Live?" and "One Piece Film Red" did it in just two days.

On the other hand, "How Do You Live?" numbers don’t look half-bad in comparison to "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and Makoto Shinkai’s "Suzume," which are perhaps the more appropriate movies to compare Ghibli’s latest to. While Ghibli’s works are, undeniably, anime, they’re generally not aiming to scratch a specific otaku itch in the same way that part-of-a-franchise anime movies with an ensemble cast do.

In the continuing otaku culture boom, these days there are a lot of superfans of series "Demon Slayer" or "Jujutsu Kaisen" superfans chomping at the bit to see their movies ASAP, and possibly multiple times, on their opening weekend. By comparison, a lot of Japanese moviegoers are content to see Ghibli movies just once during their initial theatrical run, and then wait for them to come out on home video or air on TV before watching them again.

All that said, there’s no denying that the "How Do You Live?" opening was smaller than a number of other anime movies that don’t have the exalted pedigree that Ghibli does. At the same time, it wasn’t a bad opening, and it’d look even better if we adjusted those other movies’ opening weekend figures down by subtracting their marketing costs, so it’s unlikely that Suzuki, or Ghibli, are regretting their no-marketing decision at this point.

Sources: Oricon News, Mantan Web

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Hayao Miyazaki is getting worried about how his new anime is being marketed, Ghibli producer says

-- Demon Slayer breaks Spirited Away’s record, becomes number-one movie of all time in Japan

-- Studio Ghibli releases free-to-use artwork for Hayao Miyazaki’s new anime movie, How Do You Live?

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

6 Comments
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It is quite obvious that the writer hasn't a clue about the anime world and uses terms like " Otaku" which he probably heard some place but again doesn't even understand what "Otaku" and seems to think they are one single group.

Ghibli fans are "Ghibli fans" they are often not the " Otaku" that are into other anime, some may also cross over but Ghibli fans are expecting a high quality, well written and very well acted (voice actors) of a far higher quality.

A one piece fan will in most cases also be into many other anime collect merchandise from some not others etc....

Ghibli fans will have the entire Ghibli studio collection from pre Ghibli Totoro to this one once it is released, including any extended versions, books, DVD etc..on the creation of each, etc...they will visit the Ghibli studio's store "Donguri Kyowakoku" (acorn republic) regularly to see any new merchandise release.

Ghibli movies are not for children or the one piece type Otaku or anime fans.

Ghibli movies require thinking, reflection on the meaning of the story as there is always a message in Ghibli movies.

But not that of the top grossing movies ( live action and anime) 6 out of the top 20 are Ghibli productions.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

What about the soundtrack? Every Ghibli movie has an overplayed song like a lot of other anime movies/shows these days. Each overplayed song gives these movies a major boost.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ghibli fans are "Ghibli fans" they are often not the " Otaku" that are into other anime, some may also cross over but Ghibli fans are expecting a high quality, well written and very well acted (voice actors) of a far higher quality.

That is precisely the point the article is making, the "otaku" are being mentioned in contrast with the "Japanese moviegoers" that would be interested in a Ghibli movie, so comparisons are going to be flawed.

It also explicitly contradicts the "otaku" as one single group but instead it mentions that each of the popular anime movie is targeted towards one specific segment of them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No, of course otaku watch Ghibli in the first place. It is impossible to completely separate Ghibli fans from otaku.

Of course there are fans who have a very strong desire for Ghibli only, but if you are a geek, you don't really have the option of not watching Ghibli.

Well, Miyazaki may not like it, but Japanese anime culture exists within these circles. You cannot escape from it, just as Miyazaki himself is in a sense an otaku.

Moreover, I think the content of the film was close to an exhortation to otaku and their creators.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article doesn’t even mention “Your Name” by Shinkai, so I can’t really trust the story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article doesn’t even mention “Your Name” by Shinkai, so I can’t really trust the story.

Not explicitly, but it does mention “smash hits like the films of Makoto Shinkai” which is a nod to it at least.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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