Well It Looks Like We Can Report It Now.....

DiC Loses All Options On Additional "Sailormoon" Productions

This is a story that actually took place over a year ago (in late 1998) and one which we did not discover until early 1999. We took months to confirm certain aspects, and then (to help negotiations with the Cartoon Network) sat on it for the rest of the year.

We hope that fans read this story carefully and not jump to any conclusions. Too often we have reported stories which have then been repeated incorrectly, taken out of context, or distorted intentionally or unintentionally (possibly due to poor reading comprehension skills).

Further, fans should not jump to the conclusion that they now need to help seek another company to takeover the rights. This will be the subject of another story which we are completing now and have (also) been working on for months. At this point in time, fans need not do anything.

In the course of breaking the story on the Pioneer release of the animated features, the Save Our Sailors campaign (SOS) discovered that DiC Entertainment had apparently lost any rights and/or options concerning any additional productions/releases concerning "Sailormoon."

DiC's loss will not affect any possible deals concerning the dubbing of the "Sailormoon-S" television series (SMS).

We believe that DiC probably decided not to continue with the property by the end of 1998 after a possible deal concerning the dubbing of SMS failed to come through. It should be noted that DiC never had the rights to the animated features, Sera-Myu or any of the related areas so this decision concerned only the television series. The rights for a proposed live action feature were negotiated separately and were ultimately unsuccessful.

Now that he's out of the picture.....

Andy's Insanity!

Say what you will of Andy Heyward, but he has provided untold hours of mirth & merriment here at SOS Headquarters. We never knew what Andy would do or say next. Some of his actions & statements have been so unbelievable that we've put together a little true or false test to just give you just a small taste of how our sanity has been sorely tested for the last few years. It's been a slippery slope! (Hey Andy! Why don't you take this test as well? Don't worry if you don't get the answers right--you shouldn't!)

"Where In The World Is Andy Heyward's Brain?"

    DiC stands for:

  1. Do It Cheap.
  2. Dub It Crappy.
  3. Diffusion Information Communication.
  4. Drawn Industrial Corporation.

    Did Andy say:

  5. "Features? You mean they made features?"
  6. "Sailormoon SuperS sucks. Uranus and Neptune don't even get it on!"

    Did Andy actually offer:

  7. $10,000 extra to improve the set for the live action TV special.
  8. $2.00 for every fan that TV stations got to join the "Sailor Moon Fan Club."

    Did Andy say:

  9. Of the ratings, "That's a 400% increase in 10 weeks since the show was introduced!" DiC later announced plans to dub 105 more episodes.
  10. Of the ratings, "They're nowhere and we've got to address some issues." Later, Andy tried to run his car over Haim Saban's pet crocodile.

Here Are The Answers!
As to the exact manner in which DiC lost these rights/options, it may have been through the failure to exercise an option, the failure to make a previously agreed-to payment (royalty) and/or a combination of the two.

DiC continues to hold the rights to the productions it dubbed (and presumably those episodes left undubbed from the original "Pretty Soldier Sailormoon" television series--which we would strongly urge Buena Vista Home Entertainment to produce). DiC also administers music rights initially used in the Japanese series which it dubbed, the music it created for the dubbed version and certain merchandising rights (notably most of the toys). All of these rights (plus the rights to the final 17 episodes of the "Sailormoon-R" television series) will eventually revert back to the original Japanese rights holders.

Any rights and/or options which DiC may have been entitled to concerning additional episodes now revert back to the original rights holders, Toei & Kodansha.

What this means now is that any company could conceivably get the license to subtitle/dub additional episodes--including DiC itself. It is possible for DiC to bid for those rights. However, we believe that options on such rights have been made and will be exercised or allowed to expire in the near future. (Options usually run much shorter than "Assignment of Rights.")

What is unexpected is that Toei has the right to continue the conventions established by DiC.

Normally, companies such as DiC retain the rights to their conventions. The theory goes that a company's embellishments belong to that company. Fans may have noticed that sometimes when another company takes over a show they change everything they can about it. This is because those conventions were established by a previous company--for which one would have to buy the rights to use.

But this is not true for "Sailormoon."

One needs to look no further than Pioneer's dubbing of the animated features with which the conventions of the previously established (DiC) version are being used. These rights immediately reverted to Toei, perhaps due (in part) to the unusual manner in which DiC failed to renew it's license.

With some productions, the original rights holder (like Toei and Kodansha) always own the conventions, sometimes not.

Pioneer Entertainment made its agreement concerning the animated features without the participation of DiC. Pioneer graciously opted to continue the English Language Version conventions (Voice Artists, music cues, character names, etc.) in the hope of maintaining continuity. Lack of continuity (for example, in properties such as "Slayers") is believed to hurt sales.

With the rights to "Sailormoon" temporarily splintered even further (a common problem with anime in the Western world), the ability to get episodes subtitled or dubbed becomes much harder. Having the toys controlled by a company no longer interested in future production is a major disadvantage. Purchases of toys licensed by DiC will no longer have any impact on any additional episodes being dubbed and/or subtitled.

The one possible exception to this are items made by Irwin Toys. Irwin has demonstrated independence of DiC in the past and could finance subtitling/dubbing on its own. Purchase of toys with the Irwin label could still lead to additional episodes and/or (more importantly) sponsorship on the Cartoon Network. Purchase of items which solely have the DiC label (and not the Irwin label) would probably not lead to any additional dubbed episodes.

In short, we advise fans to continue to buy the Irwin Toys.

We strongly advise fans to purchase the animated features being offered by Pioneer Entertainment. Pioneer has released anime episodes in the past--even when they did not control the toys!

With DiC's actions (or lack of action) in this particular arena unbeknownst to us (and a very well kept secret), we believe that our SMS Letter Writing Campaign was used to get other companies interested in continuing with the property. Had any campaign been directed at DiC the outcome could have been very much different. A campaign concerning DiC would have been a complete waste of time.

Mixx Pocket Manga: SuperS #1 Naoko mentions DiC dubbing SuperS
Copyright 1999
We're not sure if Naoko rewrites these for Mixx or not but discovered separately that she was probably unaware of the changes concerning DiC. We hope we didn't screw-up anything for her business associates in Japan. This sort of information should come from them, not from us.
DiC's loss was such a secret that we believe that the creator and rights holder of "Sailormoon", Naoko Takeuchi, wasn't initially aware of it.

Andy Heyward knew of our campaign and might have pressured several key individuals to keep the rights loss as a secret. This might have been done in the hope that if one of the targeted companies (The Cartoon Network, Buena Vista Home Entertainment or the United Paramount Network) or one of their competitors should show interest with possible funding that DiC could get a production deal first and then negotiate the rights with Toei/Kodansha later.

In other words, DiC could have been in a position to get a production deal without necessarily having the rights. (Such a practice is not entirely illegal. A production company could say, "Thank you for your interest and now we must clear this with the rights holder.")

But such a ploy could not work as we believe that the correct individuals were properly alerted and/or asked the right questions. Our letter writing campaign was then seen not as a plea to continue with DiC but as a plea to continue with "Sailormoon" in English. This campaign could not have occurred at a better time.

After discovering DiC's failure, several individuals with several affected companies made clear to us why we should not report the story. They convinced us that to report it too soon could have hurt future prospects for "Sailormoon." We did not want to disrupt the negotiations with the Cartoon Network concerning SMS.

One of our industry contacts informs us that one individual did try to warn them over a year ago (late 1998) as best they could without revealing Andy's secret. Our contact is grateful for the warning (which did help shape our campaign) and hopes that this one individual might be included in any future "Sailormoon" dealings.

With DiC's retreat we believe that this closes one chapter of the "Sailor Moon" saga in the English speaking world and opens up another. The SOS was not created to report on the supposed doings of Andy Heyward, DiC or of any other individual/company. We are only concerned with getting the rest of "Sailormoon" available to the public. With Pioneer's release of the animated features we are that much closer to our goal.

And Now A Word Or Two About DiC.....

Most in the animation community agree (we've never heard anything to the contrary) that "Sailor Moon" was the best series DiC had anything to do with. We realize that to some fans such a comparison wouldn't amount to much--but it meant a lot to the people who worked at DiC. They finally had a show that people cared about--only to see it slowly (and painfully) slip through their fingers. Some of the staff, past and present, are having a hard time accepting the fact that they don't really have anything to do with the property anymore and still wish for its return.

Some of those who are familiar with the international dubbing of anime know that DiC did not do such a bad job with the English version of "Sailormoon." There are other animes which suffered far more when U.S. companies have attempted network or first-run syndication releases. Other versions of "Sailormoon" have been far worse with the French version springing first to mind. (Some of us here have enjoyed the Swedish version--which appears to be not entirely faithful but has one of the most intriguing translations. Their version of the title song "Moonlight Densetsu" has it's own special, unique quality.)

Fans should appreciate the fact that Andy Heyward was, as usual, cheap with a series. Without his cost-cutting mentality (as opposed to the Disney idea of "quality" which permeates throughout the industry) we would have never heard the excellent Canadian Voice Artists. Further, Mr. Heyward could have paid for a full-time staff attorney to shut-down web sites, fan subs and fan dubs--but was too cheap to do so.

Sweet Valley High twins
"Sailor Moon" could have ended up like "Sweet Valley High" which Saban was developing at the same time.
Haim Saban, who also made a bid for the series (and who had much better connections with Japan via his very successful translation of what became the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers") went the expensive route.

Saban proposed re-doing the whole Japanese series--with none of the original animation to be included. This version, nicknamed "Saban Moon" by fans, called for live action segments to open and close each show with animation inbetween. Whole stories were to be rewritten. Live teenage girl versions of the Sailor Senshi (who attend a California-like School) were to be presented with a problem in real life each week which then gets solved in animation with the girls having learned a valuable lesson by the end.

A pirated video of Saban's presentation (primarily) for the Fox Kids Network (which at that time Saban did not control) and for the Japanese companies and individuals involved finally surfaced on the net in 1998. The SOS could never post a link to it since we knew that 20th Century Fox, the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Kids Network and Haim Saban himself visit our site. It would have meant an immediate shut-down of the "Saban Moon" site.

Fans who complain about DiC's handling of the series (or even the "Sailor Says" segments) should be forced to watch this version with their eyes held wide open. Please visit the newsgroup alt.fan.sailor-moon (a.f.s-m) for the occasional current listing of where to see this hideous, hilarious, most heinous video. It's an absolute must-see for every fan! (Our favorite comment came from one a.f.s-m contributor who wrote [something to the effect] that his corneas had been burned out by the sight of this video!)

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