GATCHAMAN CGI Feature Film Option Lawsuit Settled
All Rights Revert Back to Tatsunoko
Source: Tatsunoko Production press release
Plans for a feature-length CG animated film version of GATCHAMAN — first announced back on June 8, 2006 — formally came to end October 15, 2012 with the dissolution of the business agreement between Tatsunoko Production and IMAGI International Holdings.
Tatsunoko launched the franchise with the 105 episode anime series SCIENCE NINJA TEAM GATCHAMAN (科学忍者隊ガッチャマン Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman, 1972). A compilation film was released to Japanese theaters in 1978, followed by the sequel TV series GATCHAMAN II (科学忍者隊ガッチャマンII, Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman Tsuu, 1978) and GATCHAMAN FIGHTER (科学忍者隊ガッチャマンF(ファイター), Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman Faitaa, 1979), and the three-part GATCHAMAN OVA (ガッチャマン, 1994). An edited and English dubbed version of GATCHAMAN debuted in the the United States as BATTLE OF THE PLANETS in 1978, with a second adaptation released as G-FORCE in 1986. The two sequel shows were combined into one English language series, EAGLE RIDERS (1996).
In 2006, Tatsunoko entered into an agreement with the Hong Kong-based IMAGI Animation Studios to produced a computer animated feature film based on GATCHAMAN for a 2008 worldwide release. But the CGI GATCHAMAN was postponed to 2009 the 2011 while IMAGI produced the box office hit TMNT (2007) and dealt with the financial failure of their ASTRO BOY (2009) adaptation. Auditors determined that IMAGI did not have the financial resources to make GATCHAMAN and the studio cancelled the project in June 2011.
Two months later, Tatsunoko sued IMAGI to reclaim all rights to GATCHAMAN. The case was recently settled, as explained in Tatsunoko’s press release…
The Los Angeles County, California, Superior Court lawsuit filed against IMAGI International Holdings Limited (together with its subsidiary, IMAGI Diamond Limited, “IMAGI”) on 9 August 2011, by Tatsunoko Production Company Limited (“Tatsunoko”) concerning the June 2006 GATCHAMAN CGI Feature Film Agreement between IMAGI and Tatsunoko (“Option Agreement”), pursuant to which IMAGI had intended to produce and distribute an animated theatrical CGI movie based on Tatsunoko’s SCIENCE NINJA TEAM GATCHAMAN animated television series (1972), has been settled by mutual agreement of the parties and dismissed. The settlement includes the parties’ mutual agreement that the Option Agreement and all IMAGI rights thereunder terminated and reverted back to Tatsunoko effective as of 31 December 2010.
While IMAGI had been developing their new animated theatrical CGI movie based on GATCHAMAN, due to IMAGI’s recent corporate restructuring IMAGI decided to focus their resources on Greater China and create family entertainment animation through new IMAGI created and owned properties instead of high-budget CGI theatrical animation movies based on third party content. Consequently, IMAGI stopped developing their GATCHAMAN film project.
As a result of the settlement, (i) both sides have mutually agreed to discontinue their business relationship with respect to GATCHAMAN, and (ii) both sides have mutually agreed that all of the rights in and to GATCHAMAN, the film creation and the license of the original copyright have reverted back to Tatsunoko in their entirety, and the exploitation and licensing of all such GATCHAMAN rights, worldwide, will henceforth be made solely and directly by and through Tatsunoko.
Tatsunoko is presently planning to utilize and exploit the world renowned GATCHAMAN brand and to develop the brand in various areas.
IMAGI remains well positioned to become a branded family entertainment powerhouse in the Greater China area and beyond, with PLEASANT GOAT AND BIG BIG WOLF and its other properties to expand into the broader entertainment and services markets.
Tatsunoko and Nikkatsu Corporation are now at work on a live-action GATCHAMAN feature film scheduled for a summer 2013 release in Japan.