ADV Sues GAINAX for Live Action Movie Rights

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ADV Sues GAINAX for Live Action Movie Rights

Postby NAveryW » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:13 pm

Despite no longer existing. We also now know ADV sunk at least $25,015 into the nonexistent project.

ADV is demanding GAINAX pay court fees. If GAINAX is actually in as bad a financial position as they were rumored to be, losing a case like this could be a Very Bad Thing for them... then again, ADV seems to have taken their lack of existence pretty well.
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Postby Fazmotron » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:37 pm

Hehe, so I guess all those times that Greenfield said that he couldn't talk about the LAEM project is because ADV and Gainax were locked in some kind of legal battle....
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:54 pm

Grant: "So, the company I used to work at is suing the company you used to work at over the movies we're both currently in."

Miyamura: "How's that going?"

Grant: "Not sure. After all, it is my husband we're talking about."

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Now on a more serious note:
The Article wrote:ADV and Gainax both signed a Film Option and Purchase agreement. The agreement allowed for "the possible development, production, financing and exploitation of at least three (3) live-action theatrical motion pictures, five (5) television programs and three (3) direct-to-video movies products (each, a “Project”)."

"Possible development"? Don't you have to either agree or not agree to something in a contract, and not be all cryptic about it with words like "possible"? Especially if what's only "possible" is the entire point of the contract? I don't know if anyone outside of these parties knows what the actual contract looks like, but this seems rather convoluted to me on both parties' ends.

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Postby drinian » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:32 pm

Oh, this is interesting.

Yes, ADV still exists as a legal entity. The new distribution company Sentai Filmworks was created basically to allow ADV's people to shed their debt (read: avoid paying it back) and start a new distribution company. However, ADV also has assets that apparently could not be transferred or sold, like the rights to produce a live-action Evangelion film.

In the lawsuit, ADV says that the contract gave them the right to purchase the rights to a live-action adaptation of Evangelion -- in perpetuity -- simply by giving Gainax $1,000,000 (What a bargain!). They had to do this by a specific date: February 28, 2010. Earlier in that month, ADV sent Gainax a check for $100,000, saying that they wished to purchase the rights and would send the rest as soon as Gainax sent them the IP. Gainax instead delayed, and then returned the $100,000, saying their contract was over.

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:"Possible development"? Don't you have to either agree or not agree to something in a contract, and not be all cryptic about it with words like "possible"?

I'm sure you've heard of people "optioning" a book or screenplay to be made into a movie. That's exactly what this contract is. This give someone the right to produce a movie, provided they can come up with the funding to do it within a limited period of time. It gave ADV the right to shop around Hollywood for investors.

So, again, once the project had been launched, ADV would then have to make a payment to Gainax of $1,000,000 to own the perpetual rights to at least three Evangelion live-action films, as stated above. This is what ADV claims they were trying to do by sending a $100,000 down payment. Judging by the timing of that payment, it's more likely that ADV was trying to do whatever they could to hold on to that contract before its expiration date. Could they have come up with another $900,000? I don't know. But it does seem obvious that ADV knew Gainax had no desire to write a new contract with them for continued development of the live-action film, so that was the time to act.

I don't know who is in charge of ADV right now, but the company's main reason for existence is to recover as much money as possible for the company's creditors. And this sounds like a last-ditch effort to do so, by obtaining the still-valuable rights to live-action Evangelion. That they're asking for Gainax to pay court fees might indicate that they're broke, but I'm not a lawyer.

Legally speaking, it sounds like the outcome of the case will depend on whether ADV actually had the financing lined up to pay out the other $900,000 and begin production on LAE. If they have proof of this, it would back up Matt Greenfield's constant claims that things were happening on this project during the last few years -- and we'll finally get to hear it.
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Postby NAveryW » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:54 pm

I wonder if, since GAINAX now owns the copyright to Evangelion's characters and concepts jointly with khara, GAINAX is legally able to grant ADV the rights they requested without khara's permission. GAINAX isn't exactly known for keeping up with their legal responsibilities; it's likely they split the copyright with khara without concern for their prior agreement with ADV and this would result in a problem if ADV were to actually go through with the project.
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Postby Warren Peace » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:50 am

It's The Hobbit all over again!

I'd like to know the particulars about all the different rights issues too. Does the ADV agreement cover EOE? If they only optioned the original series, maybe not. And I assume they'd have to strike up a separate agreement if they wanted to use, say, Mari. Could ADV even go so far as to create an animated adaptation, or are they limited to live action? Could they create their own Rebuild-esque retelling?

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Postby arkiel » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:51 am

View Original PostNAveryW wrote:I wonder if, since GAINAX now owns the copyright to Evangelion's characters and concepts jointly with khara, GAINAX is legally able to grant ADV the rights they requested without khara's permission.


Well, I seem to remember the people managing the Evangelion franchise splitting with GAINAX to go to khara after Anno's name got put on a Gunbuster pachinko machine without his permission. Depending on how the two companies have arranged thing, this could leave GAINAX without the ability to establish new ventures with that IP.

What we do know:

ADV is soooo five years ago

A live-action movie being largely redundant inside this decade.

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Postby Warren Peace » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:45 am

How so? Because of Rebuild? I don't see why. A live action film would be brought to people who have little or no knowledge of the series. David Fincher's Girl With The Dragon Tattoo opens in December even though the Swedish adaptation is less than two years old. It's aimed at a different audience.

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:11 am

Well this makes a bit more sense now. Thanks, drinian!

Also, I would add to the redundancy of a LAEM argument simply because we've had an unusually high amount of Hollywood budgeted live-action adaptations, remakes, sequels, and prequels this past decade. A live-action Evangelion would simply be that other adaptation to be thrown at the top of the pile just so the internet can be full of possible gradients of "OMG! I CAN'T WAIT!", "WTF! YOU'RE RUINING MY CHILDHOOD/NOSTALGIA!", and "Hollywood sucks!", with a bunch of noobs running around the net going "The Hollywood remake was better because because of explosions and (insert name of currently popular Victoria Secrets model) played Rei." That doesn't mean that every one of these adaptations will suck, but it does increase the likelihood of something pissing fans off and that is becoming redundant.

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Postby Hyper Shinchan » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:19 am

View Original PostNAveryW wrote:I wonder if, since GAINAX now owns the copyright to Evangelion's characters and concepts jointly with khara, GAINAX is legally able to grant ADV the rights they requested without khara's permission. GAINAX isn't exactly known for keeping up with their legal responsibilities; it's likely they split the copyright with khara without concern for their prior agreement with ADV and this would result in a problem if ADV were to actually go through with the project.

IF their agreement is still valid, Gainax probably can't forfeit past arrangements; I guess that the most logic solution would be the splitting of the $1.000.000 between Gainax and Khara, if there's anything like an arrangement regarding the sharing of revenues between them (the entire legal situation of the Evangelion franchising is quite shady, AFAIK).
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Postby esselfortium » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:52 am

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:Well this makes a bit more sense now. Thanks, drinian!

Also, I would add to the redundancy of a LAEM argument simply because we've had an unusually high amount of Hollywood budgeted live-action adaptations, remakes, sequels, and prequels this past decade. A live-action Evangelion would simply be that other adaptation to be thrown at the top of the pile just so the internet can be full of possible gradients of "OMG! I CAN'T WAIT!", "WTF! YOU'RE RUINING MY CHILDHOOD/NOSTALGIA!", and "Hollywood sucks!", with a bunch of noobs running around the net going "The Hollywood remake was better because because of explosions and (insert name of currently popular Victoria Secrets model) played Rei." That doesn't mean that every one of these adaptations will suck, but it does increase the likelihood of something pissing fans off and that is becoming redundant.

Well, it's a good thing we know the creators of Evangelion would never sign off on anything that'd piss their fans off.

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Postby gwern » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:25 am

View Original Postarkiel wrote:Well, I seem to remember the people managing the Evangelion franchise splitting with GAINAX to go to khara after Anno's name got put on a Gunbuster pachinko machine without his permission. Depending on how the two companies have arranged thing, this could leave GAINAX without the ability to establish new ventures with that IP.


I don't think we actually got any followup on that speculation. It's not consistent with Anno's apparent autobiography where the casus belli was over when to make Rebuild and whether to do Gurren Lagann first, and as people like Carl Horn have pointed out, there was a heck of a lot of Gunbuster merchandising beforehand so it's not clear why Anno would be so butthurt by a pachinko machine.

A live-action movie being largely redundant inside this decade.


Rights can last a long time - I think 'in perpetuity' is the key word here. How much are the perpetual live-action rights work? 1 million USD?

ADV seems like it is gambling here. I'm sure they could have gotten financing lined up for the other 900k - Eva is one of the iconic anime and a lot of groundwork has apparently already been done, making it more valuable than your run of the mill iconi anime's movie rights. They could probably flip the rights for a few million to a random movie studio. It's even better if they can get the legal fees stuck on Gainax.

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Postby Fran0823 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:48 am

Guys, I have a question...how will this affect the production of the Rebuild movies?

I'm no expert in law but can ADV just go like "LOL our american version is waaaaaay better with our director Michael bay, writer M Night Shyamalan and Justin Bieber playing Shinji....so CANCEL THAT REBUILD CRAP!!"???


If so...time to kill myself
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Postby gwern » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:59 am

IANAL, but nothing in this seems to directly affect anime productions or even the corporation Khara. So don't expect any delays unless this lawsuit would be used as a convenient excuse or the finances of Gainax are that precarious.

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Postby drinian » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:36 pm

View Original PostNAveryW wrote:I wonder if, since GAINAX now owns the copyright to Evangelion's characters and concepts jointly with khara, GAINAX is legally able to grant ADV the rights they requested without khara's permission.

Interesting point, it would depend on whether Gainax's agreements with khara include a potential live-action film. I'm not well-versed enough in the law (not to mention Japanese law!) to say.

gwern wrote:IANAL, but nothing in this seems to directly affect anime productions or even the corporation Khara. So don't expect any delays unless this lawsuit would be used as a convenient excuse or the finances of Gainax are that precarious.

Pretty much this.

gwern wrote:Rights can last a long time - I think 'in perpetuity' is the key word here.

"In perpetuity, throughout the universe" is the usual legal term used to make sure that they're covered (until the discovery of a multiverse) and that's what we see here in the news report. (And then it's questionable as to whether contracts signed by alternate-reality versions of ourselves are valid in other universes anyway :)).

Basically, ADV was trying to convert their very limited option to make LAEM sometime this decade into the rights to any LAEM, ever. (Technically, they're limited to three live-action films and some additional shorts, but that's a lot considering it's taken most of a decade to not make a single LAEM).
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Same thing.... B\

Postby Alaska Slim » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:53 pm

View Original PostFran0823 wrote:Guys, I have a question...how will this affect the production of the Rebuild movies?

Not at all, ADV doesn't have the rights to distribute Rebuild, Funimation does.

And neither actually produce it, that would be GAINAX in tandem with Khara.

I kind of wonder how this now affects Tiffany Grant and Matt Greenfield's relationship (being married and all), but the former has always been a free agent, so I imagine it's just same-old same-old for them, even if Eva's involved.
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Postby gatotsu911 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:44 pm

Wow. So it's come to this. Just... wow.
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Postby THE Hal E. Burton 9000 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:55 pm

soooooooooo, Matt Greenfield, company, and his A.D. Vision legal entity want to go out with a bang rather than a whimper...

srsly, what a lame attempt to try and salvage any future from ADV, especially involvement in Live Action Eva

the courts should dismiss this and GAINAX should recovery attorney's fees for a frivolous suit like this

ADV may technically exist on paper, but there is no way it could ever be in a financial or even legal position to be involved in any kind of production or even licensing rights due to its assets being strip-mined out by other distributors or the quasi-successors

Matt Greenfield and his minions are has-beens in R1 anime who were only in the right place at the right time and whose time came and went with the subprime mortgage industry

the only way anything positive could come of this for Greenfield is if ADV were to have properly gone through the bankruptcy process in a timely manner and the alleged option had enough wiggle room written into it, both of which I srsly doubt existing
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Postby NAveryW » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:35 pm

My guess is that, if the case plays out based on United States laws (and GAINAX has good representation), ADV will be screwed over.

The case Stewart v. Abend, according to Wikipedia, "held that a copyright owner has the exclusive right to permit the creation and exploitation of derivative works, regardless of potentially conflicting agreements by prior copyright holders." In this situation, GAINAX could probably get out of trouble with a "no" from khara.

Then again, I've misinterpreted the precedent before.
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Postby gwern » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:44 pm

Evangelion's copyrights need no renewal, though - it was created in 1993 or so! The copyrights don't expire for decades (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Copyright_in_Japan#Length_of_protection) and I don't think Japan even has renewal of any kind.

I'm not sure ADV has any basis for getting perpetual rights, but getting the original option? I don't see what Khara has to do with it; they can only get as much title to copyright as Gainax has to convey, and if Gainax signed away some of the rights...


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