Tagged: Astro Boy

Cease and desist letter to ComicMix for posting ‘Astro Boy’ image

Cease and desist letter to ComicMix for posting ‘Astro Boy’ image

UPDATE 8/5/09: The issue has been resolved between Imagi and us. See here for more details.

So we got this in our feedback form recently:

From: Rebecca Henning

Email: XXXXXXXXX@wwllp.com

To Comicmix.com:

This law firm represents Imagi Crystal Limited (“Imagi”), the exclusive owner of the copyright in the as-yet-to-be-released CGI Astro Boy Movie and various images and depictions of the anime character Astro Boy, including the depiction at this link: http://www.comicmix.com//news/2009/07/23/sdcc-astro-boy-panel/  (the “Image”).

It recently has come to our attention that without authorization you have posted the Image at the link set forth above and represent that it is related to and/or connected with the Astro Boy Movie and/or sponsored or endorsed by Imagi (the “Posting”).

Please be advised that the Posting constitutes, among other things, false advertising and unfair competition in violation of Imagi’s exclusive rights, and further constitutes infringement of Imagi’s protected rights under the Copyright Act, all of which subjects you to a claim for injunctive relief and damages. Accordingly, on behalf of Imagi, we hereby demand that you immediately remove the Posting from your website, and further, that you immediately provide written confirmation that you have done so.

Be further advised that if you do not comply with the demands set forth above, Imagi will have no choice but to institute an action against you — and any persons or entities acting in concert with you — which will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Please confirm to us right away that you have complied with the demands of this letter. Otherwise, Imagi will have no option other than to act promptly to protect its rights.

This letter is not intended as a complete statement of the facts or of Imagi’s rights, remedies and causes of action, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

Very truly yours,

Rebecca Henning
Weissmann Wolff Bergman Coleman Grodin & Evall LLP
9665 Wilshire Boulevard, Ninth Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel. 310.858.7888

And here is our reply:

Ms. Henning:

The image in question has been removed.

To play it on the safe side, we have also removed the article in question, and every article related to the Astro Boy movie from our web site.

Obviously, we will be unable to trust any Astro Boy images that we get from third parties, because they may simply be claiming to have permission to promote Astro Boy and we simply don’t have the time to check to see if, say, Summit Entertainment is in any way connected with Imagi… so it would just be easier to not cover the movie at all. Or the DVD release. Or the comic book adaptation, which will certainly be entertaining to explain to the publisher.

For that matter, we should probably be concerned about showing any images from other Imagi productions, such as Gatchaman, Highlander, TMNT, or Gigantor. We’ll just skip covering them as well. And we should also notify all of the other people and news organizations who are providing press coverage on the web for any Imagi properties to be careful running any images related to their properties, lest they run afoul of lawyers. I can think of a few large websites running your precious image right now, I’m sure their thinking will mirror ours.

It’s a shame. You could have handled this like the nice folks at Guinness World Records. When we used an image on their web site to promote an article about them, they wrote a very polite letter, did not threaten legal action at all, and provided us with alternate images to use. Even though our usage of the image clearly fell within fair use, we were happy to replace the image because we appreciated the tone and their efforts to find a useful solution.

But hey, you’re just doing your job. So are we. And right now, it’s going to be a lot easier to do our jobs by not having anything to do with Imagi products, certainly not by promoting them in any way. And I’m sure it’s going to be a lot easier for other folks to do the same.

Glenn Hauman

Has the world hit ‘Peak Anime’?

Has the world hit ‘Peak Anime’?

Disturbing if true: ICV2 has an article entitled, simply, Worldwide Anime Market Shrinking. In a lecture by TV Tokyo’s Keisuke Iwata, he noted that due to market saturation, illegal downloading, the worldwide recession, and the rising yen, “It is easy to imagine the global marketplace shrinking from 2010 onward." According to Iwata there may be little or no growth potential for anime sales outside of Japan and that the industry “may have to go back to the way it was in the past — back to selling Japanese animation only to the Japanese marketplace."

And with a market already glutted and the massive lead time and resources required to create anime, we should expect to see big crashes. Imagi Studios already had to get bridge financing to complete production of Astro Boy.

Anime News Network has reported that the total revenue of the Japanese anime industry rose rapidly from 2003 when it was estimated at 167.4 billion yen (about $1.9 billion), peaked in 2006 at $258.8 billion yen (about $2.9 billion) and then fell to 236.9 billion yen in 2007.  Figures for 2008 aren’t available yet, but given the financial distress of many anime producers, another decline is a foregone conclusion.

Also note that Iwata’s market factors of market saturation, illegal downloading, and the worldwide recession apply equally to comics.

‘Astro Boy’ Teaser Trailer Arrives

‘Astro Boy’ Teaser Trailer Arrives

The first teaser trailer for the CGI-animated Astro Boy went live today.

A thrilling tale of a true hero, Astro Boy is an all-new, feature film full of action, adventure, humor and heart.  It will be brought to life on the big screen in breathtaking CGI animation on October 23rd, 2009.

Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Tenma (Nicolas Cage). Powered by positive “blue” energy, Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly.

Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy encounters many other colorful characters along the way.  Through his adventures, he learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it takes to be a hero.


IDW to Adapt ‘Astro Boy’

IDW to Adapt ‘Astro Boy’

IDW Comics has announced it has obtained the license for comics based on the Astro Boy movie. They intend to publish two comic miniseries tied to the film, according to IDW Editor in Chief Chris Ryall.  The CGI-animated movie will be opening next October in a release said to be planned for 3000 screens and the comics are currently envisioned as a four-part prequel and a four-part adaptation of the film.  The first issue of the prequel would be out in May, so a collection could be released with the film in the fall.

Imagi Studios also announced that Jazwares will be the master toy licensee for the film, along with licensees American Greetings for greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap, and party goods; Penguin for books; and D3Publisher for game software.  Mass market products will focus on six to 14-year-olds.

Dark Horse will continue to offer the classic Manga and Right Stuf has the classic anime on home video.

The new film, directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away) from a screenplay by Timothy Harris (Places), features Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) as the voice of Astro Boy, along with Kristin Bell, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Nicolas Cage, and Donald Sutherland.

‘Astro Boy’ Zips onto 3000 Screens

‘Astro Boy’ Zips onto 3000 Screens

Astro Boy was the first Japanese cartoon brought to America and paved the way for all other anime and Manga that followed.  Created for Japanese comics in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, the robot took flight in 193 animated episodes beginning in 1959.  Some 103 were translated into English for American television and played throughout the 1960s as Astro Boy since NBC executives thought Mighty Atom; the more literal translation was too generic.

Ever since, he has remained an icon of Japanese culture and has been revived numerous times. Imagi Studios is producing a CGI version of  Astro Boy and Summit Entertainment has announced that it will open on October 23, 2009, on a whopping will 3,000 North American.

With a release of this scope, it’s no surprise that the movie will be supported with a plethora of merchandise such as toys, games, and books. 

The new film, directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away) from a screenplay by Timothy Harris (Places), features Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) as the voice of Astro Boy, along with Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Nicolas Cage and Donald Sutherland. 

‘Ghost in the Shell’ now Downloadable

‘Ghost in the Shell’ now Downloadable

Jaman.com has cut a deal with Starz Media’s Manga Entertainment to allow downloading of Japanese anime including classic titles such as Ghost in the Shell. Other familiar titles include Robotech, Astro Boy, Street Fighter II V, Noein, Karas and Tactics.

The downloads will cost $2.99 for feature-length films, while all series episodes will be available for $1.99. New subscribers, enticed by this development, will also receive two free movies.

Jaman was founded by Gaurav Dhillon, a silicon valley wunderkind, and it has been a leading supplier of downloadable entertainment to computers and TiVo recorders. Starz Media is more than just the cable channel but also includes

Film Roman, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and Manga Entertainment among its holdings.

“Jaman is excited to bring some of the most well-known and iconic titles in Japanese animation history to our online audience,” said Gaurav Dhillon, founder and CEO of Jaman.  “Animation fans are among the most passionate in the world, and episodic content has proven to be very popular with our audience. We look forward to bringing new fans into our vibrant community with this amazing collection of titles.”

“We saw an obvious match between Manga Entertainment’s properties and Jaman’s sensibilities,” said Mara Winokur, Starz Media’s vice president of digital media and business development. “Jaman’s audience has come to expect cutting-edge, quality titles from across the globe, and they will find what they’re looking for in the entertainment we’re supplying to Jaman.”

‘Ghost Rider 2’?

‘Ghost Rider 2’?

While promoting Bangkok Dangerous, actor Nicholas Cage told a roundtable full of reporters that he and Marvel Studios have begun talks about a sequel to 2007’s Ghost Rider. If the story goes forward, Cage indicated Hell’s bounty hunter would next be found in Europe, working with the Catholic Church. The first Ghost Rider film was written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson and made on a $110 million budget.  Worldwide, it grossed $228,738,393 while earning mostly poor reviews. It did, though, perform fairly well on home video, a determining factor these days.

But first, Cage will begin shooting Kick-Ass in Toronto in the next few weeks. "I play a guy named Damon and I’m the father of Mindy, who is Hit Girl and I’m Big Daddy and I’m training my daughter to become a super-hero."

Beyond that, the lifelong comic book fan confirmed he will do a voice role for next year’s Astro Boy CGI film.  He also lent his support to the long-stalled Sub-Mariner film which has languished at Universal Studios for over a decade. The most recent Subby news is almost two years old with the studio thern announcing director Jonathan Mostow was signed to rewrite David Self’s script and direct.

‘Astro Boy’ Movie Casting Begins

‘Astro Boy’ Movie Casting Begins

When the people of the future are in trouble, they turn to one thing to save them from the forces of evil -a tiny robot that doesn’t own a pair of pants and can deploy guns from his rear.

Astro Boy is being adapted into a big budget CG movie by Warner Bros. and The Weinstein Company and the titular character has already been cast. The voice of Astro Boy will be provided by Freddie Highmore.

Highmore is familiar to most film fans as Charlie Bucket from Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He’s no stranger to voice work either, as he recently provided the voice of Pantalaimon in The Golden Compass.

Astro Boy debuted as a manga in 1952 and became a television series in 1963. The character was created by Osamu Tezuka, considered the "god of manga" by some, and the television series was one of the first cartoons to use the anime asthetic.

The film version is slated for release in 2009 and is being scripted by Timothy Harris, the man responsible for Space Jam – the greatest movie to ever involve Michael Jordan and Bill Murray teaming up with cartoons to fight monsters from space. Astro Boy is in good hands.

(via CHUD)

Comics at the museum

Comics at the museum

On the west coast, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum is debuting an exhibit on Osamu Tezuka tomorrow. Creating over 700 manga titles during his lifetime, he is best known in the West for his cartoons of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. His prolific manga work contains two main streams: manga ‘comic pictures’ for a youth audience, including Astro Boy, Kimba and Princess Knight; and gekiga ‘drama pictures’—more seriously-toned, adult oriented narratives such as Song of Apollo and Ludwig B, that stress realistic effect and emotional impact. Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga ends September 9th, with a parallel exhibit, "Manga in the making" ending September 2nd.

On the east coast, the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey is premiering two exhibits tomorrow as well: Reflecting Culture: The Evolution of American Comic Book Superheroes and Comic Book Legends: Joe, Adam, and Andy Kubert, featuring over 150 comincs and drawings from 1938 to the present. The Museum will also be running comics-related movies under the stars over the summer, from the original Adventures of Captain Marvel serial this Tuesday to Superman and Batman Begins in August.



Osamu Tezuka is generally billed as “the godfather of Japanese comics,” which implies a capo di tutti capi and a whole network of manga-kas rubbing each other out that I’m not entirely comfortable with. But I think that means that the Japanese comics industry isn’t quite sure whether to call him a god or their father, so they split the difference. His position in Japan isn’t comparable to anyone in the US; it’s as if Siegel and Shuster, Will Eisner, and Walt Disney were all one person.

Tezuka was also apparently extremely prolific over that period; Wikipedia’s page about him claims that his collected works in Japan stretch to over 400 volumes, which collect less than half of the 170,000 pages he created in his lifetime. And that doesn’t count his extensive animation work, either – the man was amazingly prolific. Some of his work has been published here – particularly Astro Boy, his best-known creation in the English-speaking world – but most of it is still a mystery to those of us who read only English. Luckily, the current manga boom is bringing more and more of his work to our shores, so we can check it out, book by book, for ourselves.

Vertical is a small publishing house dedicated to English translations of Japanese novels and manga, usually with a very refined and exciting design sense. (That’s no surprise, since Chip Kidd, the foremost book designer of our age, is associated with Vertical.) Vertical have published several of Tezuka’s works in English – most notably the eight-volume Buddha series – and seem to be concentrating on his later, more literarily and artistically ambitious works. Vertical aims at general readers, not established manga fans, so their works are in larger formats than typical for manga collections, and are also photographically reversed to read from left-to-right, as Western readers are used to. Ode to Kirihito is a handsome trade paperback, with French flaps and a sliding panel on the front, to obscure one half of the cover art or the other; it’s also well-bound, so reading its immense bulk with a bit of care will leave the spine intact.