Live Action Feature Dead

The proposed live action feature is "currently" dead at Disney. Several sources at different companies have told us that while Toei was not an obstacle, Kodansha was. Disney may have wanted more rights and/or percentages than Kodansha was willing to part with.

The project had been already dropped by April of 1999 when Michael Eisner moved to replace (Buena Vista Motion Picture Group President) David Vogel with Peter Schneider (who had been running the Feature Animation division since the Eisner/Wells takeover of the company).
For The Record.....

The Original Players

David Vogel, Walt Disney Pictures President
Gregg Hoffman, Vice President of Production
Paige Goldberg, Creative Affairs

Geena Davis & Renny Harlin, The Forge
Amanda Stern, Executive
Ed Limato, Ms. Davis' Agent with ICM
Craig Jacobson, Ms. Davis' Lawyer

Andy Heyward, CEO DiC Entertainment
Artie Ripp, Consultant
Aaron Meyerson, DiC Films

The project is not expected to be of interest to another studio. Hollywood quickly loses interest in a property when it discovers that the many merchandising possibilities (toys, clothing, etc.)--are all tied up. Studios do not like other companies making money off of their projects and prefer making features which they totally control. This is because most films today don't make money--the profits (if any) are in toys, merchandising & other areas.

We're not sure if Kodansha really understood what was at stake here.

For example, Kodansha (like most of the public) would probably consider a production of a "Sailor Moon" live action feature to cost a little bit more than, say, an "Inspector Gadget" feature. (After all, "Gadget" takes place in a contemporary setting with no other worlds to be constructed and a limited number of mechanical & special effects.) Disney was internally estimating that "Sailor Moon" was going to cost a lot more than "Inspector Gadget." "Inspector Gadget" cost Disney over $82,000,000.

Perhaps now one can appreciate why toys and merchandising are so important.

The SOS doesn't actually consider the live action feature such a loss. Close observers of this campaign and its pages may have noticed that we never came out in favor of this project. We certainly reported the story and even held a write-in to influence which direction such a feature would take--but our members were split if the project should be undertaken or not.

There would have been a great need to get many of the elements correct and a certain amount of respect paid to the material--which Hollywood fears to show. Movie executives are afraid to show their belief in a property and prefer to shape their productions so that no one takes them seriously. A serious production which fails at the box office can end a career but a farce which fails has less of an impact.

We're still glad that we held our "Letters to Queen Geena" campaign--for it was the best time to help shape the feature if one were going to be produced. The letters informed Ms. Davis & Disney right up front what the fans were interested in and hopefully will have a long term effect on how some of the parties are going to approach similar material in the future.

Stanley Tong Filmography

The Art Of War
"Martial Law"
Television Series (& Producer)
Mr. Magoo
Jing cha gu shi IV
(aka Jackie Chan's First Strike [1997])
Hong faan ku
(aka Rumble In The Bronx [1996])
Chao ji ji hua
(aka Supercop 2 [1993])
Jing cha gu shi III: Chao ji jing cha
(aka Supercop [1996])
Xiao ao jiang hu zhi dong fang bu bai
(aka Swordsman II [1991])
Tian shi xing dong III
(aka Angel 3; aka Iron Angels 3;
aka Return of Iron Angels [1990])

Source: The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

As to the elements which were being assembled for the proposed Disney feature we applauded Geena Davis as Queen Beryl (and were waiting to bring up Naz Edwards as Queen Metallia), were apprehensive over the selection of Max Adams for writer and were against Vancouver based director, Stanley Tong. Formerly a Hong Kong filmmaker, Tong could have directed the 2nd Unit Fight Scenes at best but would have (in our humble opinion) been absolutely lost with just about everything else.

We never reported the selection of Mr. Tong because we had already been told from several key individuals that he was never going to last through the development phase. (When directors are "assigned" to features they seldom last.)

DiC's overall feature film deal is expected to continue under new Disney management.

There was the hope that a Disney-led feature would lead to certain benefits but these never materialized and in fact may have hurt additional dubbing.

A good feature film (which would be beneficial to the anime) is still a possibility.

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