A.D. Vision filed a lawsuit against Gainax last week on August 11, 2011, in the US District Court of Texas, Houston division for declaratory relief to clarify their rights in a live-action movie based on the popular Anime franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion. Devoted fans have been waiting on the movie since it was first announced by ADV at Cannes in 2003, when it looked like Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings himself) would be involved. However, the ability to do King Kong and other projects caused delays for Jackson, as well as the writer’s strike, and more which kept Evangelion from reaching the big screen. Fans were elated on February 4, 2010, when producer Joseph Chou of Animatrix and Halo: Legends fame announced the movie project was alive and well. Yet, until last week, nothing more was heard.
The lawsuit filed last week sheds some light:
Gainax is the owner of the copyrights to Evangelion. For someone to make a movie, they need to option the exclusive rights from Gainax and then get the project ‘greenlit’ by a major studio agreeing to fund the movie. ADV had optioned the rights from Gainax in 2003 and had been making small annual payments to maintain the option. However, in February 2010, just as the contract between ADV and Gainax was set to run its course, ADV paid $100,000 to Gainax, which appears by the terms of the contract to indicate that Evangelion was greenlit. [To simplify: ADV was to pay 10% of $1MM (or $100,000) immediately once Evangelion was not just optioned, but greenlit.] According to reports and allegations in the complaint, Gainax refused to confirm that ADV had the intellectual property rights to make the movie, which caused the studio who had greenlit the project to back out. Apparently, over a year of legal wrangling took place in which Gainax attempted to get more money from ADV, until last month. On July 15, 2011, ADV utterly rejected Gainax’s demands, maintaining that it had fulfilled the contract. On July 27, 2011, Gainax returned the $100,000 to ADV and denied ADV held anymore rights in Evangelion. Hence, the current lawsuit, which will likely hinge on the exact wording of the contract.
Although it is virtually certain that no Evangelion movie is going to be made while this suit goes on, the light at the end of the tunnel is that once this suit is resolved, it looks promising for a live-action movie. As one of the hottest stories in North America regarding Anime, Nerds in Court intends to follow this as it progresses.