Hayao Miyazaki’s latest turn in the director’s chair, his first in five years, filled plenty of seats over its opening weekend. The 2D-animated pseudo-historical adventure The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) took in $9.6 million (960 million yen) over two days on 450 screens, making it the biggest film opening in Japan of the year so far—and knocking Pixar’s Monsters University from the top spot just two weeks after it set the previous record.
Based on the 2009 manga by Miyazaki himself—which in turn is based loosely on a biographical account of World War Two aircraft engineer Jiro Horikoshi written by Tatsuo Hori—the film as described by Miyazaki focuses more on Jiro’s personal life during a tumultuous time. The main character is voiced by Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno in his first such role.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that three of Japan’s all-time box office earners are Miyazaki productions. The anime legend’s last film, Ponyo (2008) earned over $150 million in the country, and his 2001 Oscar-winning fantasy Spirited Away is still the highest grossing Japanese film of all time, taking in $304 million in today’s yen-to-dollar rates.