'Monsters University,' Miyazaki's 'The Wind Rises' Break $80 Million in Japan

7:44 PM PST 08/26/2013 by Gavin J. Blair
Walt Disney Studios
Monsters University has now passed Monsters Inc at the Japanese box office

"Star Trek Into Darkness" bows at number four with a $2.5 million three-day opening on nearly 700 screens, while Miyazaki stays at number one despite the controversy around his film.

TOKYO – Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises spent its sixth weekend on top of the box office, taking in another $3.25 million (321 million yen) to take its total past $80 million (8 billion yen), with Monsters University hitting the same mark but taking two weeks longer to do so.  

The Wind Rises has faced controversy in Japan, with nationalists criticizing director Miyazaki for his pronouncements about the country`s militaristic past and the dangers of changing its pacifist constitution. 

The anime master's latest work also stirred up some elements in Japan`s Asian neighbors, because the film`s subject is Jiro Hirokoshi, the designer of Japan's World War II Zero fighter plane. Miyazaki, an avowed pacifist and anti-nuclear campaigner, met with South Korean journalists to explain that the film was about the personal struggles of an individual living in tumultuous times, not a glorification of Japan's wartime period.

Miyazaki has also been rebuked for the numerous scenes in The Wind Rises that feature smoking, including one where Hirokoshi is puffing away while holding the hand of his wife, who is suffering from tuberculosis. The Japan Society for Tobacco Control has lodged an official complaint about the film, pointing out that despite its adult themes, much of the audience for productions from Miyazaki`s Studio Ghibli is made up of children. Miyazaki is a heavy smoker himself who is often filmed with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.  

Monsters University held on to the second spot, which it had regained after dropping down a rank two weeks ago, moving toward $700 million globally. It has now topped the $75 million that Monsters Inc grossed in Japan in 2002.

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Star Trek Into Darkness opened with $2.5 million after Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine and director J.J. Abrams made two trips to Tokyo to promote the latest installment in the franchise -- one in December 2012 and another last month, for the Japan premiere.

White House Down held on to fifth spot after bowing there last weekend, while World War Z dropped to seventh place in its third weekend in theaters.

Gatchaman, a live-action version of the animated series that spawned a U.S. version titled Battle of the Planets in the late 1970s, opened with a somewhat subdued $1.17 million (115 million yen) from more than 300 screens.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

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