TIFF’s Opening-Night Film ‘The Boy And The Heron’ Sells Out Even Though Hayao Miyazaki Won’t Be There

EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell Deadline that the Toronto International Film Festival’s opening night film on Sept. 7, The Boy and the Heron from Hayao Miyazaki, has sold out in record time.

This despite the fact that Miyazaki won’t be in attendance at TIFF in a year that’s heavily relying on the turnout of filmmakers as most actors can’t promote their movies due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. This is not a shocker in regards to Miyazaki being a no-go at TIFF: He hasn’t done any interviews or appearances for the hand-drawn animated The Boy and the Heron in Japan where the pic opened to fantastic numbers and currently counts a running total box office there of $48M. It was always expected that the filmmaker would not travel to TIFF where The Boy and the Heron is making its international premiere. In a break with tradition, Studio Ghibli released The Boy and the Heron in Japan without any promotion, marketing materials, or pic description, allowing audiences to discover the movie on their own.

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The Boy and the Heron is Miyazaki’s first feature film in ten years and features a musical score from hislong-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi.

Pic follows a teenage boy and his psychological development through encounters with his friends and uncle. He enters a magical world with a talking grey heron after finding an abandoned tower in his new town.

Those Studio Ghibli fans at TIFF can still try their luck and get in with the festival’s rush line. The pic is playing the Princess of Wales Theatre at 6PM.

The is the first time that a Japanese title or an animated movie has opened TIFF. That said, Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli has had a fantastic run playing the fest with such movies screened as The Red Turtle (2016), The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2014), The Wind Rises (2013), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), Spirited Away (2002), and Princess Mononoke (1999).

GKIDS is releasing The Boy and the Heron in North America later this year.

Eighty-two year old, Tokyo native Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 with Isao Takahata.  His movies have grossed $1.6 billion at the global box office. Among his eleven animated features, Spirited Away (2001) broke every box office record in Japan, and won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Spirited Away made $357M at the worldwide box office. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) received the Osella Award at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival.  Miyazaki was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2005 Venice International Film Festival.  The Wind Rises (2013) was nominated for the 2013 Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  In 2014, the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Miyazaki with an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.

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