Independent animation distributor GKIDS will release Studio Ghibli’s “The Boy and the Heron,” the final film from acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki, in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 8, with special preview screenings beginning Nov. 22.
The company announced the release dates Wednesday accompanied by the first teaser trailer for the new film, which follows a boy named Mahito whose mother is killed during World War II. Struggling with his grief, Mahito is tempted by a mysterious heron to step through a door to another world where “death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning.”
The trailer, which you can watch above, is the first time that footage of “The Boy and the Heron” has been publicly released outside of Japanese theaters. Ahead of the film’s release in Japan this past July, Studio Ghibli only released a poster with no trailers or other marketing material.
Despite this, “The Boy and the Heron” has become one of Japan’s biggest box office hits this year with just under $53 million grossed. The film will now screen at multiple top film festivals in Toronto, New York, London and San Sebastian.
While he has walked back previous announcements of retirement, Miyazaki has said that “The Boy and the Heron” will be his last film, with producer Toshio Suzuki saying that the 82-year-old animator wrote and directed the film as a gift to his grandson. Miyazaki became a global animation icon with films like “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Princess Mononoke,” but truly broke through with his 2001 film “Spirited Away,” which to date is the only non-English film to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
GKIDS has been a longtime distribution partner with Studio Ghibli, releasing some of its recent films like the Oscar-nominated “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” and “When Marnie Was There.” The distributor has also held an annual Ghibli Fest since 2017, screening the studio’s classic films in select theaters nationwide.