"The Wind Rises," the movie that Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has said will be his last, will get an Oscar-qualifying run in November, the Walt Disney Studios and Studio Ghibli announced Wednesday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"The Wind Rises" ("Kaze Tachinu") will open for a week in New York and Los Angeles Nov. 8-14, with a limited U.S. release to follow in 2014 on Feb. 21 and expanded release Feb. 28 under Disney's Touchstone Pictures banner.
Miyazaki's first directorial effort in five years, "The Wind Rises" chronicles the real-life story of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, following him through his country's massive 1923 earthquake, tuberculosis epidemic and descent into World War II.
The movie, which Disney is releasing under its Touchstone Pictures banner, enters an animated feature Oscar race with no strong front-runner. Perennial competitor Pixar Animation received only middling reviews for its 2013 release, "Monsters University," and this year's DreamWorks Animation titles "The Croods" and "Turbo" failed to inspire much enthusiasm either.
Miyazaki's toughest competition for Oscar voters' attention may come from his own distributor: The Disney Animation fairy tale "Frozen" is also due in November.
Miyazaki's planned retirement is apt to figure widely in Oscar voters' consideration of his work. At 72, he is one of animation's most respected figures. The director won the animated feature Oscar for his 2002 film, "Spirited Away," but opted not to attend the ceremony because, as he later told a Times reporter, "I didn’t want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq." He was nominated again for his 2005 film, "Howl's Moving Castle."
After premiering to mostly positive reviews at the Venice Film Festival, "The Wind Rises" has traveled the fall festival circuit, making stops at Telluride and Toronto, which Miyazaki did not attend, with a stop planned at the upcoming New York Film Festival.
In a news conference in Tokyo last week, Miyazaki explained his decision to retire, saying that he could no longer put in the long hours that his style of hand-drawn animation demands.
"I have to put the pencil down and just go home," Miyazaki said.