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Studio Ghibli Boss Says Miyazaki’s New Film Has Years of Animation Left to Complete

Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki says it takes one month to complete one minute's worth of animation on Miyazaki's new film.

Hayao Miyazaki Hayao Miyazaki, director of the animated film "Ponyo," arrives at a special screening of the film in Los AngelesPremiere Ponyo LA, Los Angeles, USA

Hayao Miyazaki

Chris Pizzello/AP/Shutterstock

Studio Ghibli fans have been waiting for Hayao Miyazaki’s new film “How Do You Live?” since the legendary filmmaker announced in 2016 he was coming out of retirement, but Miyazaki’s first directorial effort since 2013’s “The Wind Rises” is still years away. Studio Ghibli producer and general manager Toshio Suzuki has given an in-depth update on “How Do You Live?” in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly. According to Suzuki, Miyazaki’s movie has continued production through the coronavirus pandemic but is at least three years away from completing animation.

“We are still hand-drawing everything, but it takes us more time to complete a film because we’re drawing more frames,” Suzuki said. “So, there are more drawings to draw than before. Back when we were making ‘My Neighbor Totoro,’ we only had eight animators. ‘Totoro’ we made in eight months. [For] the current film that Miyazaki is working on, we have 60 animators, but we are only able to come up with one minute of animation in a month. That means 12 months a year, you get 12 minutes worth of movie. Actually, we’ve been working on this film for three years, so that means we have 36 minutes completed so far. We’re hoping it will finish in the next three years.”

Suzuki added that “How Do You Live?” tells “a big, fantastical story,” which is on brand for Miyazaki. The director’s upcoming project is an adaptation of Yoshino Genzaburo’s 1937 story about a young boy who comes of age while living with his uncle after the death of his father. Miyazaki announced his retirement after “The Wind Rises” opened, but he decided to make one more movie so that he could leave behind a film dedicated to his grandson. Suzuki was skeptical that Miyazaki should make another movie since the director’s filmography is pitch perfect.

“Many directors make films on and on and on throughout their careers as they grow older,” Suzuki said. “When Miyazaki came back and said that I want to make a film again, I actually said that’s not a great idea because he’s achieved so much already. You can’t come back and do something that you’ve already done in the past, you have to do something different. One of the ideas that came out from that was, why not spend more time and spend more money [to make a film]? So, that’s one of the new approaches.”

As Studio Ghibli fans continue to wait for “How Do You Live?,” they can take comfort in being able to stream many of the titles in Miyazaki’s filmography when they launch on HBO Max later this month. HBO Max, debuting May 27, will be the exclusive streaming home for Studio Ghibli films.

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