Subtitled Version In Negotiation
Is Cloverway Redundant?
ADV Films of Texas is set to release DVDs of the first 82 episodes of Sailor Moon dubbed by DiC Entertainment. Additionally, ADV is in negotiations for a subtitled version even though those episodes would now need to be released separately. ADV has almost been in negotiation for the subtitled version ever since they acquired the Home Video rights to the dubbed version (and which were initially released via VHS).
The DVDs will have 6 episodes each and retail for only $14.98 since they will have no "extras" and are being released after (and so close) to the VHS release. (Another reason is that ADV may have a shorter window than usual to sell the DVDs.) 1 or 2 of the discs will have less than 6 episodes since there are only 82 DiC episodes in total.
ADV hopes to release 2 discs every 6 weeks. The first 2 DVDs, "Sailor Moon: A Heroine is Chosen" and "Sailor Moon: Sailor Scouts to the Rescue" should be released on April 16, 2002.
Animeondvd.com reported that news of the DVDs first appeared on the Diamond Comics site. Diamond, which is the leading distributor of comic books in the United States, also carries other lines of interest to comic book shops.
Of major interest to fans are the subtitled versions since they would include episodes and scenes deleted from the dubbed versions. Ideally, a DVD release would have included both the subtitled and dubbed versions with such episodes and scenes restored. Although such a release could be hugely profitable (ADV says it receives 20 to 30 requests a day for a dual or subtitled release) the problem may have not rested with the expense but with the subtitled rights.
At one time ADV claimed to have the subtitled rights but this later proved to be incorrect. DiC has long maintained that they controlled the subtitled rights for English speaking territories and could assign these rights to a distributor like ADV. Toei Animation claimed that DiC did not control these rights and that their agreement concerned English language versions only.
The disagreement may have concerned what constituted an English language version. Amercian distributors consider English subtitles to be, "...in the English language and so therefore constitute an English language version." Some Japanese companies (until the advent of DVD we believe) considered that the language spoken determined which version a release was. DVDs can include several languages via audio or subtitles which has further complicated such issues. But companies can now add to their contracts the regions which are part of a license--which may help define such rights more clearly.
When the original agreement was drawn up in 1995 subtitled rights for Home Video were not considered valuable to American companies such as DiC. They were very valuable to companies such as Toei since the subtitled Home Video market was the only dependable source of export revenue.
An option for additional unassigned rights (such as subtitled versions) could have easily been in the original agreement between Toei and DiC. But such options expired when DiC (recently) picked up only the rights it had at the end of the agreement for at least another two years.
Also in dispute was exactly which rights DiC maintained after its failure to exercise an option or make a previously agreed-to payment (royalty) and/or a combination of the two.
Toei could have still made an entirely separate arrangement with DiC expressly for a subtitled version via ADV but Toei refused to make such an agreement.
Toei could have assigned the subtitled rights directly to ADV (bypassing DiC completely) or perhaps to another distributor, such as Pioneer. But if Toei had attempted this earlier it could have been contested by DiC which would have filed a lawsuit (and an injunction). Toei did not want to make an agreement with any company concerning these rights until it was absolutely certain that DiC would have no claim to them. This is why Toei waited until the initial 7 year agreement ended with DiC before entering serious negotiations with ADV.
ADV seems to have been unaware of some of these circumstances but we applaud them for their diligence and hope they finalize an agreement. ADV may or may not be aware that PNP, the new holding company which has taken over administrating all rights (including Toei's) from Kodansha, has been involved in the negotiations.
Without DiC participating in a subtitled or dual language DVD release it is now highly unlikely that deleted scenes to previously dubbed episodes will ever be produced. Missing episodes could still be dubbed one day but probably not for, at least, 2 years when DiC's option expires. Toei and Cloverway seem to want to avoid dealings with DiC.
Also of interest is how Cloverway seems to have been bypassed in all of this. More than one individual involved with these companies thought that Cloverway was to have represented, or one day represent Toei on all such matters but that is clearly not the current situation.