Disney to Bring Ponyo to U.S. in 2009

Reporting on the Venice Film Festival screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest animated opus, Time Magazine confirms that Disney will release Pony on the Cliff By the Sea in North America sometime in 2009. Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, who last year brought Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to U.S. auds, are producing the English-language version.

Ponyo centers on a five-year-old boy’s friendship with a ‘girl-fish’ who wants to be human and ventures out of her underwater world. The plot echoes elements from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid fairy tale, as well as traditional Japanese folklore, and boy’s character is based on Miyazaki’s own son, Goro. Miyazaki was reportedly directly involved in many aspects of the animation himself, preferring to draw the sea and waves himself. The movie debuted in Japan on July 19 and opened to roughly $17 million.

The pic has been a big hit with critics and fans in Venice. No U.S. release date has been announced, though some say we could see begin its limited release it in April. Watch the Japanese trailer below.