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Miyazaki's Ponyo Gets All-Star Backing

Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and John Lasseter are working with animation house Studio Ghibli to increase the exposure of Hayao Miyazaki's feature PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA when it is released in the U.S. this summer, according to VARIETY.

The producers will try to boost the number of screens the film is shown on and increase the box office haul beyond the take for 2002 release SPIRITED AWAY, which was highly lauded but only made about $10 million on about 700 screens in 2002 and 2003.

In June, Marshall and Kennedy were announced as producers for the U.S. version of PONYO by Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki. Lasseter was exec producer on SPIRITED AWAY and Miyazaki's follow-up, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, which brought in $4.7 million in 202 screens in 2005.

PONYO, debuting in Japan last summer, has made $165 million so far, making it Japan's biggest earner for 2008. Ghibli, a huge factor in the Japanese market, has been trying for almost 20 years to break into the broad U.S. base beyond anime fans and arthouse audiences.

The studio revealed the U.S. voice cast in November for PONYO, including Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Cloris Leachman.