Studio Ghibli, Alibaba Partnership for Animation Production, Immersive Exhibitions
The Japanese animation company, Studio Ghibli, has entered into a collaboration agreement with Alibaba Pictures, a leading entertainment corporation in China. This partnership will work on multiple tasks, including animation production, immersive events, and business strategies for the recent film by Hayao Miyazaki, titled The Boy and the Heron (Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka).
The president of Alibaba Pictures, Li Jie, journeyed to Japan on January 5th to finalize the partnership agreement with Toshio Suzuki, a producer at Studio Ghibli. The two parties agreed on a preliminary strategic plan to set up immersive exhibitions featuring Miyazaki’s work, with the entire execution being managed by Creative Corporation. A planned exhibition has been scheduled in Shanghai for later this year.
For the past few years, Studio Ghibli has been displaying Miyazaki’s films in China for the first time and included classics like My Neighbor Totoro in 2018, Spirited Away in 2019, Ponyo in 2020, Castle in the Sky in May 2023, and Porco Rosso last November.
Alibaba Pictures is a subdivision of Alibaba Group, a technology-based business empire founded in China in 1999.
The Boy and the Heron was successful at the 81st Golden Globes Awards, snatching the award for Best Motion Picture – Animated. The film was also recognized by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, who bestowed it with the Best Animated Film award in the EDA Awards at the end of last year. Ahead of its ceremony on February 14th, The 78th Mainichi Film Awards also revealed that the film will be honored with the Noburou Oofuji Award, that rewards animated works presenting new forms of creative expression. In addition, the Annie Awards gave the film nominations for animated feature, directing, and writing and the British Academy Film Awards, where it was nominated for the best-animated film.
The 96th Academy Awards have also recognized the film, nominating it for Best Animated Feature Film.
The film premiered in Japan on July 14th and within the first three days sold 1.003 million tickets and grossed roughly US$13.2 million. Over the extended weekend from Friday to Monday, (including the Marine Day holiday in Japan on July 17th), the film sold 1.353 million tickets and generated 2.149 billion yen (equivalent to about US$15.53 million). This makes it one of Japan’s highest-grossing films of all time, ranked #71, and the third top-grossing domestic film in Japan in 2023 with an impressive gross amount of 8.66 billion yen (equivalent to about US$61.4 million).
GKIDS acquired the rights to The Boy and the Heron, and released it in North American theatres on December 8th, preceded by preview showings on November 22nd. The screenings included an English dub version and also Japanese audio with English subtitles. The film topped the U.S. box office on its opening weekend, making US$12,836,313 in the first three days. A Variety report points out that this is the first time an “original anime production” came out on top at the U.S. box office.