Chinese companies have had a long history of not paying mind to copyright issues, from bootleg GunPla to cheap knock-off apparel. Now, Guangzhou-based Chinese production company, BlueArc, made a movie and cast Ultraman as a villain. Its title is “Dragon Force: So Long, Ultraman”, and it features the tokusatsu icon as an evil villain going against a heroic Chinese robot. Of course, the Japanese company which has the actual rights to Ultraman, Tsuburaya Productions, sued them.
According to Tsuburaya, BlueArc made the film without their permission or knowledge. Tsuburaya Productions President and CEO Shinichi Oka said that “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.”
And they did take legal action last September, however, BlueArc went ahead and released the movie back in October. Tsuburaya withdrew their suit and then fired another lawsuit back in February. This latest suit claimed that the movie’s production, advertising, and screening was a copyright infringement of Ultraman.
For their part, it seems that BlueArc took the first withdrawal as a sign that Tsuburaya is giving them the rights to the classic Tokusatsu hero. However, the Japanese company said that they have NOT surrendered any rights to the Ultraman property, and will continue to take legal action.
The movie itself has been widely hated by Ultraman fans all over the world, unanimously calling it as “Fake Ultraman”. Even Chinese fans didn’t like the movie at all, calling it a “cheap rip-off”. The movie didn’t get any critical acclaim either, as most critics gave the movie some pretty bad reviews.
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Source: NHK News