"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

TSUBURAYA SPEAKS OUT ON ILLEGAL ULTRAMAN Open Online Letter Unloads on China Knock-off!


So Long Ultraman 4x6 blog
Unauthorized Ultraman "licensed" via Chaiyo's ally UM Corporation.


The following is my own translation of an open letter, published on Tsuburaya Productions' official website, from their President Shinichi O'oka, concerning the surprising news issued last week in the Chinese media, concerning the latest feature film in the on-going and popular Chinese-produced CG Animation series, "Dragon Force", now featuring Japan's greatest superhero, Ultraman. The renown character was first created and produced by Tsuburaya Productions in 1966, creating an extremely successful, long-running franchise.

In 1997, a Thai film producer and director, Sompote Saengduenchai, produced a contract stating that he owned the rights to the first six Ultraman Series, allegedly signed by the late Tsuburaya Productions CEO, Noboru Tsuburaya, who passed away - coincidentally - two years earlier. For a decade, battles were fought and won, but Sampote and his agents (including UM Corporation, Golden Media Group Inc., Tiga Entertainment Company, Ltd., and Ultraman USA) persist in breaking Thai and Japanese court decisions (read about this history, here).

Founded by the visual effects master, Eiji Tsuburaya, with financial investment from Toho Co., Ltd., Tsuburaya Productions opened for business on April 12, 1963, and today is under the umbrella of the entertainment giant, Fields Corporation, which owns a 51% share of the company, while toy mega juggernaut, Bandai, owns the remaining 49%. Starting with the company in 1969, as a camera operator, O'oka was elected President in 2008. Now, after years of silence, Tsuburaya Productions has finally spoken out publicly in this open letter posted at 8:00 pm Pacific, US Time):

About Unauthorized Chinese Ultraman Production Announcement

On July 10th, 2017, Guangzhou Bluearc Animation Studio, a Chinese corporation based out of Shanghai, China, issued an announcement for their latest production using "Ultraman Series Characters", and entitled "Dragon Force: So Long Ultraman" [Mandarin title: Gāngtiě fēilóng zhī zàijiàn àotèmàn, scheduled for release this October].

Regarding this announcement, we were completely unaware of their production, and the picture was made without our authorization or supervision. Also, use of various Ultraman characters and footage in this presentation/trailer seriously damages the Ultraman brand, so these actions should be resolutely condemned, and likewise deemed as absolutely unacceptable.

Now, vis-à-vis the handling of usage rights concerning the original Ultraman series productions ("Ultra Q", "Ultraman", "Ultra Seven", "Return of Ultraman", "Ultraman Ace" and "Ultraman Taro"), outside of Japan; these long-term disputes are still being pursued in several territories. Regardless, in each and every judgment, so far, we have been persistently declared the legitimate producers of the Ultraman series, and holders of all respective copyrights, therein.

Furthermore, all associated rights to create new productions, such as this aforementioned [Chinese] production, or any modification or adaptation of the Ultraman Series Characters, new or existing, still belongs solely to our company.

Based on the above, we intend to take decisive measures, including vigorous legal action, against the Chinese companies who willfully participated in and made this presentation trailer, and additionally, all parties involved in the production of the picture, itself.

We are deeply remorseful if this situation has been the cause of any concern and/or inconvenience; we also sincerely apologize from the bottom of our hearts to our valued clients, shareholders, and the fans of the Ultraman Series, as we look forward to your continued patronage and support. Thank you for your consideration.

July 19, 2017

Shinichi O'oka
President and Representative Director
Tsuburaya Productions

View the trailer, here, and stay tuned for more news as it develops.


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