BlueArc Animation and its staff behind Dragon Force: So Long, Ultraman were in celebration recently after having reached a point to be publicly unveiled.
But that was short lived as there came a legal threat from series creator Tsuburaya Productions. “This work has been produced without our permission or supervision. In addition, the usage of the Ultraman character image, etc., in this presentation has severely damaged the Ultraman brand, and is utterly unacceptable.
We intend to take decisive measures, including legal action, against the Chinese company that made this announcement and the persons involved in the production of the film,” the Tsuburaya Productions threat read.
While it might be dismissed that Dragon Force: So Long, Ultraman was just another example of disregard for copyright law in China, but the situation is far more complex than that.
The film is officially licensed. Just not by Tsuburaya. The movie is the latest entry in a long legal battle the Japanese production company has fought for complete rights to the property.
In short, it could be said that a 1976 agreement of dubious authenticity claims that Tsuburaya gave away rights to a number of characters and productions to a Thai company as compensation for an unpaid loan.
The veracity of that contract has been questioned in a number of international courts. In China, the agreement was viewed as valid and the rights it presumed found itself in the possession of a company called UM Corporation.
Through a partnership with TIGA Entertainment, UM Corporation granted the BlueArc Animation the ability to produce CG-animated Ultraman films in China earlier this year.
Wang Wei, BlueArc’s founder and director of the film responded to Tsuburaya’s threat, declaring that he “will take the necessary legal action” to defend the film’s contract.
Dragon Force: So Long, Ultraman is set to release in mainland China on October 1st.