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June 27, 2009

‘Ponyo’ producers want wider U.S. audience for Hayao Miyazaki

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Susan King has a report on the U.S. life of “Ponyo,” the latest masterpiece from the dreams of Hayao Miyazaki. — G.B.

Ponyo seaside

Walt Disney Pictures has achieved great critical success distributing the fanciful, inventive works of the legendary Japanese anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

His “Spirited Away,” which was released in the U.S. in 2002, earned the Academy Award for best animated feature — Miyazaki is the only anime filmmaker to have won the animation Oscar — and 2005′s “Howl’s Moving Castle” received an Oscar nomination in that category as well.

But financially, the films have fizzled. Though “Spirited Away” made $264.9 million internationally, the hand-drawn 2-D animated film barely made $10 million in America. “Howl’s Moving Castle” did even worse domestically, with just $4.7 million, as opposed to the $230.5 million it grossed internationally.

Veteran producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (“The Color Purple,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“) are hoping to turn the trend around with Miyazaki’s latest creation, “Ponyo,” which opens in the U.S. on Aug. 14 but is closing the Los Angeles Film Festival with a special screening on Sunday night.

The loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” — about an enchanting female goldfish who wants to become a human — has been receiving a lot of attention. For the first time in his career, Miyazaki will be appearing at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July showing clips from “Ponyo,” which has made $182.1 million internationally…

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– Susan King

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Credit: “Ponyo” art courtesy of Disney Enterprises.


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