The Ultraman franchise made a big splash at this year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas with multiple exciting announcements. Loyal members of Ultraman Connection already know some of this, but it’s great to see the rest of the world catching up, as well as some updates that will warm the hearts of even the most jaded Ultraman fan.
Of special interest is the newly announced corporate moniker Tsuburaya Fields Media & Pictures Entertainment, Inc., which will have a presence in the United States, and their Live Action Ultraman licensing program, indicating a commitment to tokusatsu even as they scale up their international rollout of the franchise with the animated feature from Netflix.
New Ultraman Animated Feature Film from Netflix and Tsuburaya Productions Coming in 2024
Ultraman, the iconic Japanese superhero, is preparing for a major big-budget animated family feature film coming in summer 2024 from Tsuburaya Productions and Netflix Animation. The highly anticipated CG-animated film, which is co-directed by Shannon Tindle (The Croods, Kubo and the Two Strings) and John Aoshima (Gravity Falls, Ducktales), with animation and special effects by Industrial Light and Magic, is currently in production and will bring an even wider audience to the beloved silver and red character.
The epic film continues Netflix’s successful relationship with Tsuburaya Productions following the release of the first season of Anime Ultraman in 2019. The third season of the popular anime series is available now on Netflix.
The upcoming Netflix animated film will reimagine the beloved Japanese character with a new storyline. The original Ultraman series premiered in 1966 and quickly became a major pop culture phenomenon in Japan, spawning various sequels, spin-offs, and merchandise.
The new film tells the story of baseball superstar Ken Sato who returns to his home country of Japan to pick up the mantle of Earth-defending superhero Ultraman, but quickly finds more than he bargained for when he’s forced to raise the offspring of his greatest foe, a newborn Kaiju. Struggling to balance the roles of teammate and new father, Ken must confront his own ego, his estranged father, and the conniving Kaiju Defense Force to rise up and discover what it truly means to be Ultraman.
Shannon Tindle commented: “Making this film is a dream come true. What began as an original story inspired by my love for Eiji Tsuburaya’s Ultraman somehow became an actual Ultraman film thanks to the incredible trust of the team at Tsuburaya Productions, and the support of the folks at Netflix Animation. We’ve assembled an all-star team and I can’t wait to share our unique take on Ultraman with the rest of the world.”
Takayuki Tsukagoshi, CEO/Chairman Tsuburaya Productions said: “This partnership with Netflix will be the first full-scale endeavor to reach the global market for Tsuburaya Productions. Ultraman, since it was created, has charmed many people around the world. And Shannon Tindle is one of those people. He was greatly influenced by Ultraman as a child, and he grew up to become a creator himself. I am delighted that families around the world will be able to watch Shannon and his team’s vision for Ultraman on Netflix and foster feelings of courage, hope, and kindness.”
Aram Yacoubian, Director of Original Animated Film, Netflix added: “Having the opportunity to partner with our friends at Tsuburaya Productions to bring this beloved character to our members around the world is an honor. We’re thrilled to be working with Shannon, John and an incredibly talented team of artists and lovers of Ultraman from around the world. We can’t wait to share our film with fans of this iconic Japanese hero and introduce a new generation to what’s sure to become their new favorite superhero.”
Ultraman Universe Expands Licensing Program to Include All Generations of Live Action TV Series
Ultraman, the most famous and celebrated Japanese superhero of all time, has joined the ranks as one of the most iconic characters in global popular culture. The classic Ultraman licensing program, which began in 2018, has been renamed Live Action Ultraman to include all the generations of the live action TV series to-date. In addition to classic Ultraman, Live Action Ultraman affords the opportunity to access over 50 different Ultras and 1500 Kaiju.
This year, Tsuburaya Productions will release English dubbed versions of the series, beginning with UItraman Z on the Ultraman Official YouTube Channel and Ultraman Connection. The series, which is in its 57th year, persists to this day with new episodes, generating millions of dollars annually in toys and merchandise in Japan. Based on the series’ success, Tsuburaya has produced additional content and feature films, a robust home video franchise, and live shows. The episodes can be watched on YouTube, Ultraman Connection, and Shout! Factory, and are also available on DVD and Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment.
The Live Action Ultraman licensing program now provides licensees with more creative options across all categories. Tsuburaya Fields Media & Pictures Entertainment, Inc. is currently seeking licensees in such areas as: video and mobile games, Halloween costumes, sporting goods, board games and puzzles, back-to-school, and home décor and housewares.
“It is not often that there is such a unique opportunity to come into the market with an established property,” said Danny Simon, president of Tsuburaya Fields Media & Pictures Entertainment, Inc. “Among today’s children and teens, Ultraman is gaining the popularity it enjoys in Japan, and it continues to be adored by adult fans who were passionate about it when it aired in the U.S. from 1966 through 1981 and are now eager to introduce it to their kids.”
Marvel and Tsuburaya Announce Major Ultraman Crossover Comic Book Miniseries
Marvel Comics and Tsuburaya Productions are announcing a major crossover comic book mini-series featuring characters from Marvel and the Ultraman universe. The mini-series will feature Ultraman and three of the beloved Avengers and is now in development.
At the onset of Ultraman reentering the U.S. marketplace in 2018, Marvel Publishing signed an agreement to create an Ultraman Comics series based on their interpretation of the classic Ultraman story. This landmark collaboration between Tsuburaya and Marvel has thus far resulted in three successful series: The Rise of Ultraman, The Trials of Ultraman, and The Mystery of Ultraseven. Each series consists of five issues and trade paperbacks.
The relationship with Marvel, and the consumer response to the comic series, has generated significant exposure for the Ultraman property.
The Ultraman Comics licensing program has had success with NFTs, posters, trading cards, and apparel. Available for licensing are the interior panels and covers of all of the books, which were created by world-renown comics artists such as: Alex Ross, Art Adams, Jorge Molina, E.J Su, Francesco Manna, Michael Cho, Ed McGuiness, and David Tinto. The writers are Kyle Higgins (Batman-DC, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-Boom! Studios, and Radiant Black- Image Comics), and Matthew Groom (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-Boom! Studios, Infernal Girl Red and Self/Made-Image Comics).