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ADV Sues Gainax Over Live-Action Evangelion Option (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
A.D. Vision asks U.S. District Court to "clarify" rights in option agreement

The North American anime production company A.D. Vision (ADV) filed a lawsuit against the Japanese anime studio Gainax on Thursday over the live-action option to Gainax's Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. In particular, ADV is asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, to "clarify certain rights and obligations" under the option and related copyrights.

ADV claims that "Gainax refuses to confirm ADV's acquisition of copyrights and other rights in, Evangelion, disputes the same, and has otherwise refused to perform its obligations under their agreement."

ADV and Gainax signed a memorandum of agreement for the option to "at least three (3) live-action theatrical motion pictures, five (5) television programs and three (3) direct-to-video movies products (each, a “Project”)" on March 1, 2003. The option was first announced at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival as a joint project between Gainax, Weta Workshop, and ADV. At that time, ADV co-founder John Ledford had given the project an "aggressive timetable." As recently as last year, producer Joseph Chou (Halo Legends, Appleseed: Ex Machina) said that the live-action plans were still "very active."

ADV asserted that it then made the following option fee payment and extension fee payments to Gainax:

US$10,000.00 (original option fee) on March 3, 2004;
US$2,500.00 on October 10, 2004;
US$2,500.00 on November 11, 2005;
US$2,500.00 on February 13, 2007;
US$2,500.00 on February 22, 2008; and
US$2,515.00 on February 19, 2009

To secure ownership of the motion picture rights, ADV asserted that it made an additional payment of US$100,000 on February 17, 2010, before the expiration of the option term on February 28, 2010. However, ADV asserted that it requested materials from Gainax to confirm its option agreement, and said that Gainax delayed those materials. As a result, ADV said that "lost a major studio opportunity for the Motion Picture Rights. ADV gave notice of that loss to Gainax."

ADV asserted that Gainax proposed to change the agreement on July 15, 2010, but ADV rejected the proposal. According to ADV's filing, "Gainax refuses to confirm ADV's acquisition of copyrights and other rights in, Evangelion." Gainax also sent a return check for US$100,000 to ADV on July 27, 2011.

ADV is asking the court to declare ADV's ownership in motion picture rights due to its US$100,000 payment on February 17, 2010. ADV is further asking the court to declare "that ADV is the sole owner of the Motion Picture Rights without further payment obligations to Gainax save for certain contingent payment obligations" as outlined in the original agreement.

In addition, ADV is asking the court to declare "ADV's ownership of copyrights in relation to Evangelion (e.g. the Motion Picture Rights); namely, throughout the universe in perpetuity, ADV owns and has the right to produce, distribute and otherwise exploit the Projects (where Projects means three (3) live action theatrical motion pictures, five (5) television programs and three (3) direct-to- video movies products) and all ancillary, derivative and subsidiary rights as well as each and every second use right related thereto (including without limitation diffusion, merchandising, master toy rights, commercial tie-ups, soundtrack recordings, music publishing, character, theme park, remake, re- write, sequel, prequel and spin-off rights) and additional projects based thereon."

Source: Crunchyroll

Update: Clarified which payments were the original option fee, the extension fee, and the rights fee. Thanks, bayoab and Shiroi Hane.

Image © GAINAX / Project Eva.TV Tokyo

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