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Harmony Gold extends Robotech / Macross license with Tatsunoko

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  • Harmony Gold extends Robotech / Macross license with Tatsunoko

    Widgets Magazine

    MORE HERE: https://www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/robo...nded-exclusive
    The Robotech/Macross License Has Been Extended (Exclusive)

    Harmony Gold's deal with Tatsunoko to continue making Robotech and more will continue for years to come.

    For the past few years the future of the Robotech franchise seemed to be in question. Back in 2017 a California court upheld a license agreement between Harmony Gold U.S.A. Inc. and Tatsunoko Production, which affirmed Harmony Gold's license to the three-anime programs from Tatsunoko that were combined to create the unique Robotech anime series.

    The big problem? In the upholding of that licensing agreement it also became public knowledge that Harmony Gold's license to the three series that made up Robotech, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada, would expire on March 14, 2021.

    When this news originally broke many fans assumed that once the 2021 date hit, Tatsunoko would simply take their programs back from Harmony Gold. In a sense, the Robotech franchise had a ticking clock on it.

    However, it has now been officially confirmed by Harmony Gold that their license agreement with Tatsunoko has been extended beyond the 2021 date. Yes, Robotech isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Below is the official release.

    HOLLYWOOD, CA, July 5 - Harmony Gold USA, Inc. announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Japanese anime studio, Tatsunoko Productions, Co., to extend the worldwide, co-copyright ownership and exclusive management, excluding Japan, for its landmark anime series Robotech (including Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada). This agreement was achieved after a lengthy negotiation and allows Harmony Gold to continue to exploit the animated Robotech franchise well into the future.

    We spoke with the Robotech staff at Harmony Gold to discuss all the ins and outs of the extension and what it means for Robotech and the original Japanese series.

    The biggest misconception Harmony Gold wants to clear up about the license agreements that were made public in 2017 was that "it wasn't even a [standard] court case" according to Tommy Yune, President of Animation at Harmony Gold. "It was simply both companies agreed to this interpretation of their deal."

    For context, many of these deals originated in the '80s between not just Tatsunoko and Harmony Gold but also advertising agency Big West, a co-producer on the original Macross and owner of 41 designs from that series. This has caused many of the issues which plagued Robotech and Macross over the years such as not being able to include certain Macross character designs in Robotech sequels and not being able to release Macross sequels outside of Japan.

    "A lot of the original Japanese agreements, they were almost more or less memos. They were extraordinarily short," explains Yune.

    "I think the original contract was written on someone's cocktail napkin," adds Steven Yun, Vice President of New Media at Harmony Gold. "They wrote those contracts back then not knowing what business would be now [and] how much licensing matters [along with] regional rights."

    Despite rumors that Harmony Gold didn't know the license would expire in 2021, both Tatsunoko and Harmony Gold were aware and that's what prompted them to iron out the details on their various deals.

    "Both companies wanted to figure this out because renewal was coming up," adds Yune. "This is something you don't want to do at the last minute. You want to give yourself time to do it right."

    "People have to understand this is the system working," says Kevin McKeever. Vice President of Marketing at Harmony Gold. "If we have a disagreement we do arbitration. We all have disagreements but your disagreements get solved."

    Once the details had all been worked out in the 2017 license agreement, Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko could work on their renewal in, as Yume describes it, "a straightforward manner. [The details were] just entered into California court so that it was a part of permanent record."

    When the arbitration ruling came down, "Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko started talking immediately about renewal," says McKeever.

    Harmony Gold won't disclose when the renewal was agreed upon but it happened sometime between 2017 and now. Harmony Gold also can't disclose how long the renewal is but in their presentation at Anime Expo on July 5th, a slide stated that Harmony Gold's rights to Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada will remain in "full effect well into the future".

    McKeever did confirm that this isn't a new agreement between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko. He elaborates:

    "It's an extension of all the current agreements [that were made public in 2017]. It's a renewal but actually it's an extension for lack of a better term. We renewed but we decided as part of our renewal to extend the agreement."

    This basically means that Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko have renewed the same agreement they had before and extended it. This is exciting for everyone involved, especially Sony Pictures Entertainment who is currently working on the Robotech live-action movie. The new extension, "allows Sony to do what they want to do with the Robotech IP," explains Yune.

    With the future of the franchise uncertain before this new agreement was worked out, it makes sense that Sony didn't rush the Robotech movie into production. On the off chance the license wasn't extended Sony wouldn't have been able to fully utilize the IP.

    Now that the license has been renewed, Sony will be able to take full advantage of the Robotech franchise and their partnership with Harmony Gold is set to expand over the next eighteen months. With Sony viewing Robotech as a possible "Harry Potter style franchise" according to McKeever, they are going to take full advantage of it in all areas. Live-action movies, video games, and more are on the table.

    It's not just with the live action movie either. With the renewal secured Harmony Gold can do more with the Robotech franchise. Whether it's new product licenses or new animation, having the terms of their agreement fully worked out and renewed with Tatsunoko bodes well for the future.

    But what about the Macross sequels? For many many years fans haven't been able to legally obtain various sequel series to the original Macross outside of Japan. It's been a huge point of contention, with many people pointing the finger at Harmony Gold. Does this renewal change anything about that?

    Right now it appears nothing has changed. In 2017 the upholding of the license agreement made it clear Big West still owns those 41 characters designs and Tatsunoko owns the commercial rights to the Macross series. The way the Macross rights pie is divided up will make it difficult to work out who has the rights to various aspects of the IP outside of Japan. While Harmony Gold won't comment on any Macross sequels at this time, Tommy Yune does generally say that, "if we can have more Macross and more Robotech everywhere and just let the fans go after what they enjoy we think that would be a wonderful thing."

    In the past Harmony Gold has let existing deals for Macross sequels continue, including Manga Entertainment's license of Macross Plus and Macross II which can still be legally purchased for streaming on Amazon.

    Yune assures that Harmony Gold isn't trying to hide any version of the Japanese series and in fact more credit will be given to Tatsunoko on future products. For the past few years only Harmony Gold was credited on various products released.

    "We're working this out. Harmony Gold and Tatsunko [have been] partners in this whole thing. For future product that we're working on, the IP is going to be jointly shared by both companies."

    That still leaves some rights issues on the table but Harmony Gold has a lot of hope Sony may be able to bridge the gap in all the legal issues between the various companies. Yune speculates, "I don't have a crystal ball but I think that with a company like Sony? [They] can bring everyone to the table and work the rights out for the future."

    Everyone at Harmony Gold is excited for the future, including Jehan Agrama, President & CEO of Harmony Gold. He explained, "In 1985, Robotech introduced an entire generation in the west to the Japanese anime industry. Our fans are loyal and we are excited to be able to extend this franchise for their enjoyment."

    Frank Agrama, Chairman of Harmony Gold added, "Over the past 35 years we have been blessed to work with our friends at Tatsunoko on developing one the world's greatest entertainment franchises. With our extension we look forward to the next 35 years of working with Tatsunoko and world class business partners on Robotech."
    Last edited by WTK; 07-05-2019, 09:36 PM.

  • #2


    • #3
      And now the Q&A!
      Someone asked the big question first!
      Will #HarmonyGold license other #macross series?
      Tommy Yune made it very clear:
      Their license renewal only covers the original 3 titles. #Macross spin-offs are NOT included.
      https://twitter.com/MetalSkinPanic/s...20719195303936 (Note: DVDs have been OOP for years)
      Someone asked about if they will make Blu ray remasters of the original version... Tommy Yune mentions the steaming options and dodges the question. Steve Yune says "They're looking into it, but it's too expensive at the moment"
      #Robotech #Macross
      No Blu-Rays in the near future for Robotech #AX2019 #Macross #Robotech
      Last edited by WTK; 07-05-2019, 10:25 PM.


      • #4
        Excuse me while I go break something and also scream.


        • #5
          Originally posted by mamochan View Post
          Excuse me while I go break something and also scream.
          Same. Not happy about this news at all.


          • #6
            The Future of ROBOTECH / MACROSS: LIVE Q&A with Harmony Gold's Kevin McKeever!


            • #7
              The most aggravating part of this news is the eternal lip service Harmony Gold pays to Macross, Mospeada, and Southern Cross, when the company has only ever demonstrated the intention of burying the original series, outside the few rare instances where they can make a quick buck, while someone else takes the risk and does all the hard work.

              Not that the license expiration would have made the international release of Macross products a sure thing, but this news almost certainly means the current status quo will be maintained. Extremely disappointing...
              Junker Woland, a horribly delightful blog.


              • #8
                Wow wtf. Wish HG would just go bankrupt. Seriously why tf would they even allow HG to renew the license in the first place, what is wrong with them? I just freaking want Fontier on BD with subs.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Chisel View Post
                  Wow wtf.... I just freaking want Fontier on BD with subs.
                  Same. I LOVED the music, but I've never actually seen the Anime.


                  • #10
                    We can watch "Legend Of The Galactic Heroes" legally, but not unedited "Macross"!

                    I had March 2021 circled on the calendar. I was waiting for the day some anime company announced they got "Macross". This announcement hurts.

                    More frustrating is that Tatsunoko knows there is demand for "Macross". They know that companies were ready to push piles of money Tatsunoko's way. We will not find out how Harmony Gold convinced Tatsunoko to extend the rights. "Macross" and "Robotech" are dead, it's best to leave this series behind.


                    • #11
                      If i was to honestly type how I felt about this announcement I'd probably be banned. I cannot believe this...
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                      • #12
                        People pissed about Harmony Gold renewing the Robotech shows don't seem to get that they're NOT the hold-up for getting Macross stuff, just a mild obstacle and quite possibly the only way the OG series can even be released still.
                        Big West simply WILL NOT license these shows. Tatsunoko can't license anymore. Only path is extending the existing license. Which they did. If BW changes their mind, clearing the HG trademarks may be minor clearances. Dunno, no one's gotten that far.
                        They haven't exactly done much to keep the original series in circulation, so it's hard to think they are not part of the problem. Funi or ADV would have reprinted or re-released it multiple times by now

                        Well fans have certainly decided thag. But it was released on dvd twice, disappointed in sales both times. It has no HD master, it won't come with online rights. Most publishers wouldn't even want it.
                        That's a fair point, especially the image quality issue, but it's been many years so I wonder if those releases were victims of things like bad timing, low marketing or limited channels, stuff that could be better addressed today.

                        AnimEigo made a big deal about their restoration efforts. ADV did a whole convention tour with the VAs (please see ongoing VA lawsuit trainwreck threads for behind-the-scenes awfulness) and this was peak-ADV before the crash. Sorry, not the case. Pure flop.


                        • #13
                          The real two big problems with this situation:

                          1) These fuckwits are so miserably inept that they will never be able to expoit the franchise to the extent they keep talking about, otherwise they would have already done it. They've had decades but can't generate anything worthwhile on the Robotech front other than delays and trash. It's very telling how they are so eggs-in-one-basket on the live-action movie, because they figure that competent adults are doing the real work, so they can just sit back and coast on the payout. Their problem is that the movie is unlikely to happen, meaning they won't have any cash or clout to springboard into other projects. So, they're going to spend the next few decades or whatever continuing to peddle shitty real estate to keep the lights on, and squatting on the IP with nothing to show for it.

                          2) Because of how tangled up the situation is with all parties and IP involved, and HG knows this full well, none of the other anime installments are ever going to be licensed, despite Yune's disingenuous hints to the contrary. HG won't do it because Big West would never give them the time of day, but also because HG is so focused on imaginary Hollywood prize money that any such effort is beneath them. And other companies won't do it because if they tried to, HG would barge into the room and sling their dick around. So, for those who just want Macross Frontier dubbed and on Blu-ray or whatever, it's just not happening.

                          Ultimately, the best case for anime fans is that the live action movie actually does get made, but is such actual shit that everyone takes a huge hit financially and reputationally that Hollywood collectively closes its doors on any further discussion of Macross or Robotech. That would force HG to, not unlike Stu "DJ Milky" Levy, run back with their tails between their legs to the beginnings that birthed them, and possibly motivate them to use their strongarm tactics and disregard for laws and ethics to somehow deal with Big West and Studio Nue juuuust enough to manifest a domestic disc release of the various Macross sequels and spinoffs.

                          In a just world, among other things, Frank Agrama would be in jail in Italy and HG as a company would have been bulldozed into oblivion. Sadly we are not in that timeline.

                          I also remember a day when I would see the name Tommy Yune and think, "wow, that guy draws neat" and not "wow, that guy is straight sellout corporate garbage."

                          For what it's worth, apparently when they made the licensing extension announcement at the panel, the response was basically silence. They've burned both Macross fans AND Robotech fans so badly at this point, I'm not sure why anyone could be excited about anything HG has to say.
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                          • #14
                            So much for that. Here I thought that Harmony Gold had faded into oblivion, at least as far as their involvement with anime, but here they are keeping something to themselves longer when it should be handled by someone who actually understands how to market anime in America.
                            Last edited by Buckeye; 07-06-2019, 11:39 AM.
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                            • #15
                              The notion Harmony Gold is the good guy in this situation and everyone and everything else are the problems is hard to buy and will continue to be so, with each passing year that out-of-print DVDs are the only non-import products available to Macross fans.

                              Junker Woland, a horribly delightful blog.


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