The Wind Rises will be opening in LA and New York City this weekend from the 8th through the 14th of November for an Oscar qualifying run. Though my review of the film, along with others, from the New York Film Festival, was incredibly positive, there's been some apprehension popping up regarding its US release.
According to the New York Times, the film may struggle more than is usual for a Studio Ghibli film for a number of factors that generally have nothing to do with the quality of the product. One of the reasons being that the film includes adults who smoke, and some are theorizing that the film will receive some general community disapproval because animated films are geared directly towards children in the United States. Although, the film is set during World War II, which makes the act historically accurate for the time setting, it is still a concern for impressionable young viewers.
Another reason the film is unsettling potential audiences is because of it's overarching theme of war, the second World War to be more specific, which is something we've discussed in the past in regards to the studio's repertoire. There has already been backlash regarding the film abroad, not only in South Korea where they've called it a "celebration of Japan's wartime aggression," but even in Studio Ghibli's home of Japan where the film is considered unpatriotic because of its pacifist themes during a time when the Prime Minister is pushing for the militarization of Japan.
These are all concerns with one thing in mind and that is the Oscar's. While it took Studio Ghibli 17 years from its conception to win their first Oscar in 2002 for Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki, the director of both Spirited Away and The Wind Rises, was not present to accept the award in order to protest a nation (U.S.) at war. So while these are all very real concerns regarding box office success and a potential award, it may not be the kind of attention this movie is seeking. The Wind Rises is about a man and his love for his girl, his love for his work and his dreams, and those are things that neither box office nor trophy can add to nor negate.
The only real concern for the studio, would be that the right people see the film and fall in love the same way Hayao Miyazaki did.