Marvin Gleicher
"It's a very, very expensive and difficult business to be in."
Emru Townsend: As you're working more in terms of producing original animation on your own with Japanese animation studios actually animating, do you see yourself producing stuff for television as well?

Marvin Gleicher: Yeah. We have one project that's in production, and one project where we're attempting to get all the partners together from all over the world, that are for television. That's the most difficult thing. These are geared a little younger, and they're geared more towards strip morning or Saturday-type cartoons for kids, and they're educational in that regard. It's very, very difficult. There's a huge backlog of great animation out, it's very difficult to get proper network clearances, and in the syndication of various shows. Sailor Moon and Dragonball are two examples of how it failed.

It's not worth the multi-million dollar investment of production if in the United States--which is 35% of the revenue flow or more--you can't get a time slot of even two years from now properly, and sponsored correctly. So it's a very, very expensive and difficult business to be in. Even though we have commitments from various European and Australian companies, it's still not enough to make back the cost of production alone, let alone all the other ancillary things that go with it.

That's sort of one the things that's a necessity for TV, but may not be for theatrical or direct to video. Right now, do you have any plans for these?

Our own original production will be for television, to my knowledge. Right now, we're intending three 40-minute episodes as a series. So I don't know whether that will evolve into a theatrical release or not. And if it did, it would be a limited release.

Right. Not really going directly toe-to-toe with the Disney juggernaut.

No, it's not, because it's geared to ages twelve plus. Competing in the children's market is very, very difficult. We do have the rights, once a few things are cleared up, to Astro Boy, which we will be releasing for television and for home video, and that's a great children's series. And that I don't mind if it gets in syndication or not.

Do you see the potential for, at some point for TV or maybe someday a theatrical release, for the adolescent and up market? Unfortunately, most of that stuff has died at the box office and TV is kind of iffy, but do you see it as worth the risk at some point?

Yes. I think with the right property, it would be. If we knew it was the right property and we had almost or close to pre-sold it for let's say a movie of the week or something of that nature, then we could go ahead and do it. If we were Turner and we owned our own network, or if we were New World Entertainment and owned twelve television stations or something like that, I would say our odds would be better that we could get it played. [both laugh]

Yeah, one could say that.

Yeah. If we owned a network or a cable system we would have a better opportunity for exposing it, which is a tremendous advantage for several of these companies.

As Disney has also discovered.

Yeah, even with the best-produced potential children's series, try getting it on ABC.

Well, they scrapped almost all of their existing lineup for next year, to be not entirely but largely replaced by Disney stuff, or Disney-owned stuff.

Right. Because of the success of Fox and Nickelodeon, this is the one chance they have, and the Disney Channel is such a high premium for most families with multiple kids to pay for, that it kind of defeats its purpose.

So at this point you're aiming more for the cable and broadcast guys, and trying to wedge your way in through there.

If you have the right property and the right connection, you should be able to get it. But all the networks and all the cable stations are in a very strong position. Until everybody starts bidding on the same property. It just depends on the strength of it.

Well, to wrap this up, any ideas of what you're planning for the future that you can talk about?

Well, everything we've got is in contract negotiation so I can't really talk about it, but we have lots of acquisitions that are really exciting properties that fit the Manga standard of quality, and the fans, the original otaku as well as the new fans--hopefully to create a bigger, broader base for a fan market--are always kept in mind. We're trying to release only the highest quality available projects, and we're working on several other feature films as well, hopefully as good.

For theatrical release.

For theatrical. I mean, there's not a ton of them, they're not produced that often.

But enough.

Yeah, but enough.

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Originally printed in fps #10 (Summer 1996)
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