Big West to Distribute Macross Works Made After 1987 Globally; Streams Flash Back 2012 OVA

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The official Macross portal site confirmed on Thursday that Big West will handle the worldwide release of all works that are part of the Macross franchise made after 1987. This includes the upcoming Gekijōban Macross Delta: Zettai LIVE!!!!!! (Macross Delta the Movie: Absolute Live!!!!!!) film and future works. Big West is also in charge of the releases of games, toys, live concert performances, and other content and merchandising.

Big West began streaming the The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Flash Back 2012 original video anime (OVA) collection of music videos on YouTube. The video will stream for a limited time.

Macross creator Shoji Kawamori commented, "For creators like me, our work only comes to life for when it is viewed by people. It seems that the time has just started to move, after years and years of stillness." He added on Twitter, "I thought this dark tunnel would not ever end and reach the light, but gradually I started to see the dawn coming out of the long-lasting night."

Original character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto stated in a comment, "On a personal level, I was frustrated not only over the fact that the global reach of the anime titles were impeded, but so too were all the production design sheets, the illustrations and the comics that were created through the involvement of many people. I am very happy to hear that the situation has been sorted out enough that audiences around the world would be able to fully access all this material."

Big West, Studio Nue, and Harmony Gold USA announced earlier this month that the companies agreed to allow the immediate distribution of most Macross television sequels and films. The agreement signed on March 1 also confirms that Big West "will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film." Big West will no longer contest Harmony Gold USA's exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of 41 Macross characters and mecha designs in the Robotech television series and related merchandise outside Japan. The companies agreed to cooperate on the distribution of future Macross and Robotech projects.

Background

Studio Nue launched the Macross franchise in 1982 with The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, a television anime series featuring the themes of a love triangle, music, and transforming fighter planes. Studio Nue worked with the advertising agency Big West and the anime studio Tatsunoko Production as production partners.

The franchse spawned three more television series (Macross 7. Macross Frontier, and Macross Delta), several theatrical films (starting with The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?), and several video series (including Macross II, Macross Plus, Macross Dynamite 7, and Macross Zero). Macross Delta ran from April to September of 2016, after a preview of the first episode in 2015. A new Macross Delta feature film and a new Macross Frontier short will open this year.

Overseas, Tatsunoko licensed various rights to the first Macross series, as well as the two anime series Mospeada and Southern Cross, to the licensing company Harmony Gold USA in 1984. Harmony Gold USA edited and rewrote the three shows into its 85-episode Robotech series in 1985. Harmony Gold USA went on to produce sequels, including 1986's Robotech II: The Sentinels and 2006's Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.

Harmony Gold USA also signed two live-action Robotech motion picture deals: in 2007 with Warner Bros. and in 2016 with Columbia Pictures. No live-action films have yet been released, but Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) was writing a script for a Robotech film.

In a 1991 agreement, Tatsunoko granted Harmony Gold USA the exclusive right to exploit 36 episodes of Macross, 25 episodes of Mospeada, and 23 episodes of Southern Cross, for 10 years. The two companies extended the agreement in 1998, 2002, and then 2019.

Litigation

Around 1998, Big West filed against Tatsunoko, claiming it, not Tatsunoko, had the rights to make sequels to Macross. A 2003 court decision ruled in favor of Tatsunoko — notably saying that Tatsunoko had the right to license Macross to Harmony Gold USA — but Big West retains the rights to 41 of the original designs used in the series.

As a result of these proceedings, Tatsunoko and Harmony Gold USA's agreement in 1998 revoked Harmony Gold USA's right to make sequels to the three shows in question, but the 2002 agreement restored them for Mospeada and Southern Cross only. A 2003 agreement restored Harmony Gold USA's right to make derivative works of Macross, except with the designs owned by Big West. Tatsunoko disputed this 2003 agreement in its counterclaims, but the court upheld the agreement as valid.

Also as a result of these litigation, Tatsunoko asked Harmony Gold USA to protect Macross trademarks outside of Japan, and agreed that Harmony Gold USA could deduct legal fees from royalties paid to Tatsunoko. Tatsunoko also disputed this agreement in its counterclaims, but again the court ruled in favor of Harmony Gold USA.

Source: Macross portal site

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