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Hayao Miyazaki's How Do You Live? Film Will Get No Trailers Before Release

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Producer Toshio Suzuki explain why July 14 film has not revealed plot summary, voice cast

If you've been wondering why you've heard hardly anything about Hayao Miyazaki's latest feature film, How Do You Live?, despite the fact that it is opening in Japan next month, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki revealed the answer in a video interview with Bungeishunjū magazine last Friday. Suzuki remarked that he was "done" with the full-blown marketing cycle, implying that neither he nor Hayao Miyazaki have the energy for it anymore.

"You get tired of doing the same thing over and over. We wanted to try something new this time," he said.

Suzuki also cited other reasons for foregoing the marketing. He remarked that if audiences are interested in watching something, they won't need to see trailers to be convinced. He mentioned that some films spoil their stories through their trailers, pointing fingers at a certain Hollywood film that will open in Japan around the same time as How Do You Live?

So far, the studio has not revealed a plot summary or even the voice cast. It only unveiled one poster for How Do You Live?, embedded below. Suzuki commented that, throughout his entire career working on Ghibli posters and marketing, this was his first poster that Miyazaki went out of his way to praise. This also influenced him to choose a minimalistic approach with the film: no TV spots, no newspaper ads, nothing. Just this visual will do.


He emphasized throughout the interview that these were his real feelings and that he did have the audience's interests in mind, even though he did cheekily admit at multiple points that his motivations were self-serving.

In the interview, Suzuki revealed vague hints about what kind of film How Do You Live? will be. He thinks the film is great, although it has very little to do with the story of Genzaburō Yoshino's 1937 novel by the same name, which Miyazaki was apparently inspired by. Suzuki said that Miyazaki first read the story when he was in middle school and that it stuck with him throughout the years, mainly because of the profundity of its title.

Suzuki's philosophy toward marketing has always been nuanced and complex. Former Studio Ghibli president Kiyofumi Nakajima recalled that when asked how Spirited Away became a worldwide hit, Suzuki responded: "Every film director is concerned with making something good. There's no director who doesn't think that way. However, balancing that desire with market concerns makes things difficult. At Ghibli, we focus on making something good first and then making people who understand the content of the work best handle the marketing."

Ironically, Nakajima later wrote in his recollections that he found out that Suzuki was actually a pragmatist who paid careful attention to marketing trends and poured 10 billion yen (about US$71.6 million according to the current exchange rate) into marketing Spirited Away. "What he told me about how there's no predicting the future and you won't know until you try was a barefaced lie," an amused Nakajima wrote. However, he noted that Suzuki is the kind of person who worked pragmatically to secure enough money for the creators at Ghibli to achieve true creative freedom.

Suzuki has also spoken about his approach to financing films and why the studio ultimately did not choose to seek perpetual growth. The way he tells it, the reason why Ghibli approved a streaming deal with Netflix was mainly to fund the production costs of How Do You Live? At the time, Suzuki predicted that the film would take years to make.

Miyazaki officially revealed the film in 2017. Suzuki reported in April 2017 that Miyazaki had been drawing the storyboards for the project since July 2016. Miyazaki had declared in 2013 that he would "retire from the production of feature-length films," but he then came out of retirement to make How Do You Live?

Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?) will open in theaters in Japan on July 14.

Source: Bungeishunjū digital edition's YouTube channel via Hollywood Reporter

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