GKIDS opened Miss Hokusai, directed by Keiichi Hara (Colorful, Summer Days with Coo) and produced by Ghost in the Shell maker Production I.G, in two theaters last weekend, but the big launch is yet to come.

Miss Hokusai will start screening in more than 85 U.S. theaters this Friday, followed by an expansion in an additional 20 theaters in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, October 28.

The PG-13 rated Miss Hokusai debuted with a promising $24,524 in its two-theater New York and Los Angeles launch last weekend, giving it the third-highest per-theater average of any film playing in the United States. GKIDS is pushing the historical coming-of-age tale about the daughter of Japanese illustration legend Hokusai for the animated feature category at the Academy Awards.

The film was adapted by screenwriter Miho Maruo from Hinako Sugiura’s manga Sarusuberi (both screenwriter and original manga artist are women, a GKIDS press release points out). Released theatrically last year in Japan, Miss Hokusai was well received on the festival and awards circuit, winning the jury prize at Annecy, the top jury and audience awards at Fantasia Film Festival, and best animated feature at both Sitges and the Asia Pacifica Screen Awards.

Here is the official GKIDS synopsis:

As all of Edo flocks to see the work of the revered painter Hokusai, his daughter O-Ei toils diligently inside his studio. Her masterful portraits, dragons and erotic sketches—sold under the name of her father—are coveted by upper crust Lords and journeyman print makers alike. Shy and reserved in public, in the studio O-Ei is as brash and uninhibited as her father, smoking a pipe while sketching drawings that would make contemporary Japanese ladies blush. But despite this fiercely independent spirit, O-Ei struggles under the domineering influence of her father and is ridiculed for lacking the life experience that she is attempting to portray in her art. Miss Hokusai’s bustling Edo (present day Tokyo) is filled with yokai spirits, dragons, and conniving tradesmen, while O-Ei’s relationships with her demanding father and blind younger sister provide a powerful emotional underpinning to this sumptuously-animated coming-of-age tale.

See the GKIDS web site for a complete list of theaters screening the film this weekend.

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