Miyazaki’s ‘The Boy and the Heron’ is No. 1 at the box office, a first for the Japanese anime master

Category : Lifestyle/Entertainment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. resounding / rɪˈzaʊn dɪŋ / (adj.) – very definite, real, or strong in a way that leaves a lasting impression or impact

    The company’s new product release was a resounding success, reaching even more than the sales goals.

  2. swan song / swɒn sɔŋ / (n.) – the last piece of work, performance, or achievement of someone, such as an artist, actor, writer, or athlete

    The new movie is the actress’ swan song before she retires.

  3. perish / ˈpɛr ɪʃ / (v.) – to die or be killed, usually due to an accident, violence, or war

    He is able to hold his mother’s hand right before she perishes.

  4. fantastical / fænˈtæs tɪ kəl / (adj.) – strange and wonderful in a way that could be found in stories or fiction

    The children were amazed by the fantastical creatures they saw in the movie.

  5. realm / rɛlm / (n.) – a country or place ruled by a king or queen

    The fantasy realm in the novel was filled with magical creatures.


Read the text below.

For the first time in Hayao Miyazaki’s decades-spanning career, the 82-year-old Japanese anime master is No. 1 at the North American box office. Miyazaki’s latest enchantment, “The Boy and the Heron,” debuted with $12.8 million, according to studio estimates.

“The Boy and the Heron,” the long-awaited animated fantasy from the director of “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and other cherished anime classics, is only the third anime to ever top the box office in U.S. and Canadian theaters, and the first original anime to do so. The film, which is playing in both subtitled and dubbed versions, is also the first fully foreign production to land atop the domestic box office last year.

Though Miyazaki’s movies have often been enormous hits in Japan and Asia, they’ve traditionally made less of a mark in North American cinemas. The director’s previous best performer was his last movie, 2013’s “The Wind Rises,” which grossed $5.2 million in its entire domestic run.

“It’s really a resounding statement for what animation can be,” said Eric Beckman, founder and chief executive of GKIDS, the North American distributor for Studio Ghibli films. “American audiences have been ready for a lot more than what they’ve been getting, and I think this really points to that direction.”

“The Boy and the Heron” for years was expected to be Miyazaki’s swan song. But just as it was making its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Junichi Nishioka, Studio Ghibli vice president, said the previously retired Miyazaki has begun working toward another film.

“The Boy and the Heron,” has been hailed as one of the best films of 2023. The film, featuring an English dub voice cast including Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, and Mark Hamill, follows a boy who, after his mother perishes in World War II bombing, is led by a mysterious heron to a portal that takes him to a fantastical realm. In Japan, its title translates to “How Do You Live?”

“The Boy and the Heron” earlier collected $56 million in Japan despite zero promotion. Studio Ghibli opted to release the film without production stills, trailers, ads, or billboards.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Studio Ghibli decided to release “The Boy and the Heron” in Japan with zero promotion but the film still gained $56 million. Why do you think the studio did so (ex. the studio wants viewers to be curious, Miyazaki’s films already have the reputation of being good)? Would you be curious to watch a film that doesn’t have any promotion? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • The film is also the first fully foreign production to land atop the domestic box office this year. What do you think contributed to its success in North America (ex. the popularity of anime in the West, the casting of famous Hollywood voice actors)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • “The Boy and the Heron” featured renowned Hollywood stars as voice actors. In your opinion, should the original Japanese voice actors have been used instead? Do you think the film would have been equally successful if the original Japanese voices were kept? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What do you think are the pros and cons of using the original Japanese voices in Japanese films or anime like “The Boy and the Heron,” compared to using an English dub (ex. pro: it preserves the film’s authenticity, con: language barrier)? Discuss.
Category : Lifestyle/Entertainment