Anime Central 2009
ADV Films and Sentai Filmworks
by Jason Green,
Anyone looking to get into the ADV Films panel as it began faced a line that stretched down the hallway, around the corner, and deep into the cosplayers that routinely pack the Hyatt Regency O'Hare lobby. Once the crowd had filtered in, the room was filled to roughly 90% capacity when Matt Greenfield, ADV Films co-founder and current Senior Vice President of Content and Acquisitions, took to the stage.
Greenfield wasted little time before addressing the topic that was on everybody's mind: whether or not ADV would rescue the rights to any more Central Park Media titles, following on the heels of the company's acquisition of Grave of the Fireflies, Now and Then, Here and There, The World of Narue, and MD Geist announced earlier in the week. And the answer to that question was yes, but the names of those titles would have to wait: due to the annual Golden Week shutdown in Japan, plans with the Japanese licensors couldn't be solidified in time for an announcement at the convention. However, Greenfield strongly implied that more announcements were imminent. Later, he also mentioned that he had “hoped to announce six” new anime series to be released in partnership with Sentai Filmworks, but those announcements were also delayed by Golden Week. As to what dub would be used on any former CPM titles, Greenfield stated that ADV would keep the original dubs intact whenever the material is made available to them. “We would prefer to do it that way,” he explained, “as that's the version people are familiar with.”
What Greenfield could announce, however, were a trio of new live action films that the company would be localizing and distributing in conjunction with Switchblade Pictures. Those titles included Zombies of Eureka, Zombie Self Defense Force and Siren, which Greenfield described as “a ghost story with lots and lots of sex.”
The topic of the first fan question was the long-delayed live action Neon Genesis Evangelion film. Greenfield hinted that there was movement on that front but could not confirm the film's current status. However, his closing comment—that “the closer it gets to production, the less I can say about it, and I can't say anything”—was confirmation enough for most in the room.
Regarding releasing the company's catalog on Blu-Ray, Greenfield noted, “We want to get into Blu-Ray, there's no two ways about it.” He also stated the company has a few titles that are ready to go, but that they are waiting for the proper market conditions before releasing them.
On the topic of re-releasing some of ADV's older, out-of-print titles, Greenfield noted that the contract for every VHS-era title has to be renegotiated for a DVD release, which can be a difficult process given the rights to some titles have changed hands several times in the intervening years. “They're slowly but surely sneaking out,” Greenfield explained, “but it just takes time.”
When one fan asked whether ADV was seeking the rights to old Manga Entertainment titles like the Evangelion movies or New Dominion Tank Police, Greenfield cheekily replied “I can neither confirm nor deny” before stating, “It'd be nice to consolidate things in certain cases.”
Another questioner asked if the dub of St. Seiya would continue if the new edition box sets are successful, to which Greenfield replied, “We'd like to keep that going.”
Greenfield had some bad news for fans of the company's inactive manga line, with one questioner in particular lamenting the loss of Cromartie High School. Each manga-related question was greeted with a variation on the same response. “We have no plans for continuing any new manga titles at the current time.” “It's a bad time to be putting anything in [the market].” “We don't have any current plans but that doesn't mean it won't change. At the current time, it's not very likely.” And, perhaps most definitively, “In the current environment, while we'd like to do that, we just don't have the free cash flow to do it.”
Back on the anime front, the status of further Geneon rights rescues was also addressed, with Greenfield simply stating that if a title was coming out from Geneon that hadn't been announced yet, ADV is interested in it and is likely pursuing it. Several questions centered around the slew of recent sub-only, half-season box set releases like Princess Resurrection the company has released in conjunction with Sentai Filmworks. The aggressive release schedule, he noted, was Sentai's decision, stating that “Sentai's attitude was 'We believe we need to get these titles out quickly'” to combat fansubs. The gambit seemed to have worked, as “A lot of people really responded to the format,” which Greenfield noted allowed viewer's to maintain a fairly cheap buy-in price while getting to see enough of the show to know if it's worth following, a happy compromise between single DVDs and full season-only releases. The sales have been good enough that ADV is contemplating dubbing these shows, although Greenfield noted he “cannot confirm that because it's not my call.” The company's Anime Network branch, in particular, is pushing for these series to be dubbed.
Greenfield also addressed his worries on the state of the anime industry, noting that as the number of new shows in Japan keeps dropping, the industry will continue to lose its creative people to the live action and video game industries. He remains optimistic that the industry will recover, however, comparing the current climate to similar periods in the late 70s and mid 80s.
Upon the mention of video games, a questioner asked if ADV had any plans to enter that market. Greenfield surprised many in the room by answering, “That's another ‘I can neither confirm nor deny’ situation.”
Greenfield's wife, ADV voice acting regular Tiffany Grant, was also in attendance, holding court in the front row. Best known for her role as Evangelion's Asuka Langley Sohryu, Grant got laughs with an aside that she had befriended Yuko Miyamura, Asuka's Japanese voice, “and she didn't get [the show's ending] either.” Grant also helped close out the show by taking on the entire audience in a rock-paper-scissors tournament whose winners received free ADV Films DVDs.
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