Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sony Eyes Robotech as Live-Action Film Franchise




Oh, Robotech ... why can't I quit you?

Ever since this beloved anime franchise stopped publishing new novels and comic books in the '90s, it has largely been in a state of limbo. Aside from a few projects here and there--such as two video games and collector-grade toy releases--the franchise has been inert for over 15 years. The Shadow Chronicles in 2006 promised to launch a new chapter in the series--along with a retconned timeline--but that didn't make it past a pilot movie; last year, the Robotech Academy Kickstarter project, which would have delivered a new anime series had it reached its funding goal, crashed and burned within months of its announcement. Even Dynamite Entertainment's new run of Robotech comics began and ended with a non-canonical, five-issue crossover with Voltron.

One rumor that I've heard is that all animated Robotech projects have been put on hold because of the possibility of a live-action movie, a possibility that's been around since actor Toby Maguire bought the rights to do so in 2007. Nothing has been heard about the development of that project since then until this week, when Sony announced that it will make a live-action Robotech movie with the intent of using it to launch a franchise.

With Marvel churning out interconnected blockbuster superhero movies and a new Star Wars trilogy beginning later this year, it makes sense that the bigger movie studios are scrambling to launch their own blockbuster franchises. Yet what I want to know is how Sony is going to deal with the copyright issues surrounding Robotech's most popular source material, Super Dimension Fortress Macross?

Macross was one of the anime series that was used to create Robotech, which was also patched together by using re-dubbed and re-edited episodes from Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada. Of the three series used, Southern Cross and Mospeada were not very popular in Japan, so Robotech's parent company Harmony Gold encountered few legal issues when using them; however, Macross has grown to become a popular franchise in its own right since the '80s, which has led to many copyright problems whenever Harmony Gold wanted to use characters and mecha that originated from Marcoss. Such complications halted the production of first sequel series Robotech II: The Sentinels back in 1987, and matters haven't gotten any better since then.

So what will Sony do for its Robotech movie? Has it worked out a deal with Macross' parent company Tatsunoko to avoid legal problems, or will it find a way to adapt the Robotech story that will stay true to the general narrative but won't directly involve anything that could be proven in court to come from Macross? Also, if the live-action movie is a hit, will we be seeing another Robotech cartoon and if so, will it be a continuation of the original series or something that ties into the movie? Stay tuned ....



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