|Why Sailormoon Fans Should See "Princess Mononoke"
Dimension Films, a subsidiary of Miramax (a division of the Walt Disney Co.), will be releasing "Princess Mononoke" in United States theaters on Friday, October 29. The animated feature is considered to be one of the very best ever produced in Japan and a masterpiece by director Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli.
Disney, searching for new product, made an agreement with Yasuyoshi Tokuma (of Tokuma Shoten which owns 75% of Studio Ghibli) to release most of Studio Ghibli's features for the international Home Video market. Mr. Tokuma & Mr. Miyazaki sought guaranteed theatrical releases as well but settled for just one, "Princess Mononoke." Home Video is nice but like any animation studio, Ghibli wanted their films to be seen the way they were meant to be seen--on a theater screen.
Disney's leverage was this, that American audiences just don't go to see Japanese animation in theaters. Films like "Akira" maybe successful--but not successful enough for a company like Disney. Even if the "Pokemon" movie for Warner Bros. is hugely successful, companies like Disney (and even Warner Bros. itself) would be very hesitant to release "serious" anime features.
The limited release of "Princess Mononoke" is considered an experiment by Disney which all of the other studios are watching. If the release is successful more anime features might be released (dubbed and/or subtitled) in the English speaking world.
The anime industry has been very frustrated in it's attempts to enter the theatrical market outside of Japan. Talk to anyone in the business and they will tell you how much the success of this release means to them. It means (among other aspects) that their industry could continue to exist in the face of an uncertain yen. Overseas earnings are beginning to be seen as a way for the Japanese to protect their investments in an expected unstable domestic (Japanese) market.
The Tokuma Deal came with a price for Disney as well. Disney is not allowed to make any changes to any of the productions for Home Video or Theatrical release without the permission of Studio Ghibli. Disney is contractually obligated to recreate the Japanese elements in their English version. The contract is so specific that Disney must make a good will attempt to mix the dialog with the proper and different room echoes established in original versions.
Despite what you might read in the popular or anime press, some changes have been made in the English version of "Princess Mononoke." But we understand that these changes were made with Mr. Miyazaki's permission.
So for once, the stage is set. Anime fans have a golden opportunity. Here is one of the best anime features ever produced, being released in theaters in the United States, with as little censorship and alteration as possible, at a time when the other studios are taking a close look at theatrical anime.
We encourage every "Sailor Moon" fan to go see "Princess Mononoke."
As another example of how important this is, fans need to look no further than Pioneer's deal for the "Sailormoon" features. When we received word that the off-and-on again deal had finally been reached we were elated but were also admittedly disappointed that there was no planned theatrical release.
But if "Princess Mononoke" & "Pokemon" are released successfully--why couldn't "Sailormoon" be as well? We're already pretty sure that the contracts would be in a mess to allow a theatrical release but as one of our Industry Contacts relates, "What are you talking about? Contracts are renegotiated all the time! If there's money it's to everyone's interest." With the subtitled release so successful and with the dubbed versions expected to do even better--a theatrical release of just one of the features ("Sailor Moon R" anyone?) might be possible--if "Princess Mononoke" does well.
One other reason to go see it with your friends and family--you won't be disappointed. "Princess Mononoke" also happens to be a great film and we highly recommend it.