Japanese Action-Adventure ‘Samurai Marathon’ Due on Digital May 12, Disc July 21 From Well Go

The Japanese actioner Samurai Marathon will come out on digital May 12 and Blu-ray and DVD July 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Director Bernard Rose (Candy Man, Anna Karenina) co-wrote the screenplay with Japan’s Hiroshi Saito and Kikumi Yamagishi based on the novel The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japan’s First Marathon.

Inspired by a race still held yearly, the film follows an aging lord in late feudal Japan who challenges his samurai to a grueling marathon — joined covertly by his daughter. The group must overcome deadly odds to survive. Meanwhile, a young ninja operates undercover in the court of the lord and finds his loyalties put to the test.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Samurai Marathon stars Takeru Satoh (Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter), Nana Komatsu (The World of KanakoSilence), Mirai Moriyama (RageVision), Shota Sometani (First Love) and Danny Huston (X-Men Wolverine, TV’s “Yellowstone”). 

Follow us on Instagram

Produced by Academy Award winners Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) and Toshiaki Nakazawa (Departures), the film includes an original score composed by Philip Glass (The Truman Show), costume designs by Oscar winner Emi Wada (Ran) and cinematography by Takuro Ishizaka (John Woo’s Manhunt).

‘Manon,’ ‘One Missed Call Trilogy’ and Slasher ‘Deadly Manor’ Due on Blu-ray Feb. 25 From MVD and Arrow

Three titles are coming on Blu-ray Feb. 25 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Manon, the Japanese “One Missed Call Trilogy” and the slasher Deadly Manor.

Manon comes via Arrow Academy. Loosely adapted from Antoine François Prévost’s 1731 novel, this French drama is the story of a French Resistance fighter that rescues and falls in love with a woman accused of working with the Nazi’s. The couple moves to Paris where their life begins to spiral out of control as they get caught up in prostitution and murder. The film took home the Golden Lion award at the 1949 Venice Film Festival. The new high definition release includes a new video appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew and an archival documentary that features Clouzot discussing his love for literature.

The multi-disc “One Missed Call Trilogy” features a legendary trio of J-horror films launched with Takashi Miike’s 2003 film about people who receive strange voicemails from their future selves predicting their deaths. Yumi Nakamura, a young psychology student, begins to investigate the calls and discovers this terrifying circumstance has been plaguing Japan for centuries. The original was followed by two more films, One Missed Called 2 and One Missed Call: The Final Call. Special features include interviews, documentaries, a TV special and a short film.

Also on tap is José Ramón Larraz’s slasher Deadly Manor (1990), also known as Savage Lust. This final genre effort from Larraz follows teens who stay the night in an abandoned mansion that happens to be home to a lunatic killer. Restored in 2K using the original elements, Deadly Manor is making its Blu-ray debut. Special features include a new interview with actress Jennifer Delora and the original VHS trailer.

‘Ultraman X’ and ‘Ultraman Ace’ Coming on Blu-ray This Spring From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing to new titles on Blu-ray from the “Ultraman” superhero library for their North American debut.

“Ultraman X” will arrive on Blu-ray as both a complete series plus movie combo pack at $39.98 and a movie-only, stand-alone Blu-ray at $19.98 on April 21.

“Ultraman Ace” will come out in a steelbook at $49.98 while the complete series will also be available in standard Blu-ray packaging at $39.98 on May 12.

The first Ultraman series with an ongoing antagonist, “Ultraman Ace” premiered in 1972 and features all of the earlier Ultra Heroes — Ultraman, Ultraseven, Ultraman Jack and Zoffy — as recurring characters. The releases include all 52 half-hour episodes with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles. In this fifth entry in the Ultra Series, theinterdimensional alien Yapool launches a war against the Ultra Heroes for galactic domination. As the conflict spreads to Earth a new hero, Ultraman Ace, is tasked with protecting the planet from Yapool and his Terrible-Monsters, experimental beasts more powerful than ordinary monsters. Divided between his two human hosts’ personalities, Ace must learn to balance them and his superior energy powers as he battles alongside Earth’s Terrible-Monster Attacking Crew (TAC) and his fellow Ultramen to overcome these terrible new foes.

“Ultraman X” was originally released in 2015. When a massive “Ultra Flare” from the sun envelops the earth, Spark Dolls buried underground and undersea are turned into monsters. In order to deal with the sudden outbreak of marauding creatures, mankind forms Xio, a special defense team equipped with the latest in super-science. Then, 15 years later, Xio is engaged in battle against a monster when team member Daichi Ozora hears a mysterious voice say, “Unite! If you and I join together, you will fight that monster with one heart, one mind!” He agrees, merging with a giant of light to become Ultraman X. Also included with the complete, 25-episode series is the 2016 theatrical feature film Ultraman X: The Movie — Here He Comes! Our Ultraman. In the film, X is joined by his longtime ally Cyber Gomora and a team of Ultra Heroes (Ultraman, Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Max, Ultraman Victory, Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Nexus and Ultraman Tiga) to stop the evil beast Zaigorg and a “powered up” army of classic monsters.

Digital redemption on Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service movieSpree is also included with each release.

‘Return of Ultraman’ and ‘Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga’ Flying to Blu-ray in February From Mill Creek

The Japanese series “Return of Ultraman” and “Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga” are coming to Blu-ray in February from Mill Creek Entertainment.

“Return of Ultraman,” the fourth entry in the “Ultra Series” that premiered in April 1971, comes out in both steelbook ($49.98) and standard ($39.98) packaging Feb. 25. After years of relative peace, mankind is once again under attack by giant monsters and alien invaders. A new Ultra Hero, Ultraman Jack, arrives from Nebula M78 to combat this threat alongside the Earth defense unit known as MAT (Monster Attack Team). The series features guest appearances from the original Ultraman and Ultraseven, presenting the very first team-up of the Ultra Heroes. It also brings back some classic foes from previous shows while also introducing dozens of new aliens and monsters. The releases include all 51 half-hour episodes with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles. Digital redemption will also be available via Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service movieSpree.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The complete 12-episode “Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga” debuts Feb. 11 at $19.98 with the bonus special Ultra Fight Orb, which picks up from the events of the theatrical feature film Ultraman Orb: The Movie — Let Me Borrow the Power of Bonds. Both properties have never been broadcast on TV or available on any home entertainment format in North America. “Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga” is a prequel to the 50th anniversary series “Ultraman Orb” (now available on Blu-ray and digital). Debuting in Japan on Amazon Prime Video in December 2016, the show reveals how Gai Kurenai became the hero Ultraman Orb, and why his friend Jugglus Juggler turned into his arch enemy. Ultraman Orb joins Ultraman Zero and Ultraseven in Ultra Fight Orb to stop a mysterious villain who has revived an army of ghost monsters. Digital redemption on movieSpree is also included.

‘Ultraman’ and ‘Ultra Q’ Japanese TV Series Available on TVOD Site movieSpree

The “Ultra Q” and “Ultraman” Japanese TV series are available to purchase or rent in high-definition on movieSpree, Mill Creek Entertainment’s transactional streaming site.

The purchase price is $29.99 each for the two series.

The original series “Ultra Q” was one of the most expensive TV series ever produced in Japan.  Originally airing in 1966, it spawned a revolution in “Ultra” content that has spawned series after series, as well as movies and merchandising created.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The “Ultraman” television series of the 1960s and 1970s, produced by Tsuburaya Productions, built a worldwide audience for the property. Hailing from the distant Nebula M78, Ultraman is a sleek silvery being who protects Earth and the human race from an endless array of invading aliens and terrifying monsters together with the crew of the Earth-based defense force using advanced high-tech weapons and vehicles. Ultraman battles monsters that cause endless mayhem and destruction on Earth. With the ability to extend his height to over 150 feet, Ultraman melds with a human and only emerges in times of extreme danger to save people and the Earth.

Sony Merging Anime Streaming Businesses

Sony Pictures Television and Aniplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), have announced the combination of multiple Sony-owned anime streaming businesses.

France’s Wakanim, Australia’s Madman Anime Group and U.S.-based Funimation will form a joint venture to be owned by Aniplex and Sony Pictures Television. The venture will be led by Funimation GM Colin Decker.

Under this structure, Funimation will acquire and distribute anime content from Japan across the global portfolio of brands, “each with deep regional expertise in serving fans,” according to a Sony release.

“Now with a larger global footprint, the combined businesses will expand their 360 degree, multi-channel approach to fan engagement that spans home entertainment, theatrical distribution, live events and merchandising,” the release stated.

As the first project of this union, Funimation will be the exclusive streaming home of the latest installment in the “Fate/Grand Order” series for one month. Starting Oct. 5, “Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia” will be simulcast in the United States on FunimationNow and will launch on Wakanim and Madman Anime Group’s AnimeLab in their respective territoriesFate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia” is the first TV animation series of the “Fate/Grand Order” mobile game, with more than 41 million downloads worldwide.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Anime is a growing area of importance for us at Sony Pictures Television,” said Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins in a statement.By combining these businesses, we immediately increase our global reach and expertise in SVOD, theatrical, home video, merchandising, events and more. Along with our world-class marketing capabilities, we’re well-positioned to deliver unprecedented results for our partners and the best possible anime experience for the fans.”

“Through Sony group’s integration of anime related streaming services, we are thrilled that numerous Japanese anime titles will be distributed globally through its digital platforms,” said Aniplex president Atsuhiro Iwakami in a statement. “We hope our partnership will contribute to the further development and expansion of the Japanese anime industry.”

“For 25 years, Funimation has served creators, publishers, and fans,” added Decker in a statement. “By merging, we can extend our support of the industry for another 25 years with some of the most respected talent, and brands, in global anime.”

More ‘Ultraman’ Series Coming From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing more series from the “Ultraman” superhero library recently licensed from Tsuburaya Productions for North American home entertainment distribution.

Due Nov. 17 are “Ultraman Orb” and “Ultraman Geed,” making their North American debut as Blu-ray combo packs that include the complete series and subsequent feature films that concluded each respective storyline ($39.98 each).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

On Dec. 10, the 1967 series “Ultraseven” will also be making its Blu-ray debut in limited edition steelbook packaging at $49.98 and as a standard Blu-ray release at $39.98.

“Ultraseven” is the third entry in the “Ultra” series. The show premiered in October of 1967 and appealed to a wider, adult audience with a greater emphasis placed on alien threats and social issues that were not as clear-cut as good and evil. The series questioned the actions of the Ultra Heroes as they fought against giant monsters and alien hordes bent on human domination.  The steelbook and standard Blu-ray releases will each contain 48 half-hour episodes with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles. Digital redemption will also be available via Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service, movieSpree.

“Ultraman Orb” was originally released in 2016 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Ultraman and the 20th anniversary of the franchise’s relaunch with “Ultraman Tiga.” The series stars Hideo Ishiguro as Gai Kurenai, who calls upon the power of previous Ultra Heroes via a device called the Orb Ring to fight Demon King Beasts released by the mysterious Jugglus Juggler after they were sealed away by Ultra Warriors long ago.  Also included with the complete, 25-episode series is the theatrical feature film Ultraman Orb: The Movie — Let Me Borrow the Power of Bonds!, in which the titular hero joins forces with Ultraman Zero and Ultraseven to rescue the “New Generation Heroes” Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Victory and Ultraman X and prevent an unprecedented global crisis.

“Ultraman Geed” is the story of a young Ultra Warrior who carries the DNA of an infamous father, the evil Ultraman Belial, but fights his fate to become a hero of justice. The 25-episode series also includes the feature Ultraman Geed: The Movie — Connect the Wishes!, in which Earth is about to be swallowed up in the cyber subdimension and annihilated, but the power of “wishes” will cause Geed to undergo a further transformation and fight against an alien force threatening intelligent life across the universe.

‘Ultraman’ Library Licensed to Mill Creek and U.K.’s Indigo for North American Home Entertainment Distribution

Mill Creek Entertainment and the U.K.’s Indigo Entertainment have licensed the “Ultraman” superhero library from Tsuburaya Productions for North American home entertainment distribution.

Under the deal, Indigo, on behalf of Tsuburaya, with Mill Creek has both physical and digital distribution rights for the “Ultraman” catalog, which includes classic TV series newly remastered in high definition, recent theatrical feature films and “almost everything produced” throughout the last 50 years, according to Mill Creek.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s debut releases from this deal will be limited edition SteelBook and standard-packaged complete series releases of “Ultra Q” and “Ultraman” on Blu-ray Oct. 15. Each release will contain high definition video with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

Digital redemption will also be available via Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service, movieSpree, with a free 10-minute sample of the first episodes of “Ultra Q” and “Ultraman” available to watch now on the service.

The original series “Ultra Q” was one of the most expensive TV series ever produced in Japan.  Originally airing in 1966, it spawned a revolution in “Ultra” content that has seen the creation of many series, movies and merchandising.

The classic “Ultraman” live television series of the 1960s and 1970s, from Tsuburaya Productions, built a worldwide audience for the property. Hailing from the distant Nebula M78, Ultraman is a sleek silvery being who protects Earth and the human race from an endless array of invading aliens and terrifying monsters together with the crew of the Earth-based defense force using advanced high-tech weapons and vehicles. With the ability to extend his height to more than 150 feet, Ultraman melds with a human and only emerges in times of extreme danger to save people and the Earth.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“These first two series are what kicked off the worldwide phenomenon of Ultraman,” said Jeff Hayne, VP of content acquisitions for Mill Creek, in a statement. “Ultraman’s success paved the way for other popular tokusatsu franchises including ‘Kamen Rider’ and ‘Super Sentai,’ which influenced the spawning of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.’”

“Ultra Q”

“We are excited to bring the Ultraman catalog to North American audiences through a multi-faceted release model spanning Blu-ray and DVD plus various TVOD, SVOD and AVOD digital outlets,” said Barrett Evans, VP of marketing for Mill Creek, in a statement. “In tandem with the classic series, we will also be releasing the more recent series and films to appease fans of both classic and modern Ultraman.”

“Ultraman is a revolution in television history — a landmark property and record-breaking global phenomenon. The original series heralded a new age of quality adventure and special effects for children’s entertainment.  Now, through Indigo’s unique relationship with Tsuburaya, we are delighted to be partnering with Mill Creek Entertainment in repositioning the legendary Ultraman for both new and old audiences alike,” said David Lawley, MD of Indigo Entertainment, in a statement.

“We are very excited about this partnership and the opportunity to reintroduce the Ultraman series, with over 50 years of history, to the people of North America. We hope that we shall rekindle memories of the fans that enjoyed the series in the 70s and 80s and at the same time nurture a new fan base for the younger generation,” said Kei Minamitani, GM, international business at Tsuburaya Productions, in a statement.

Well Go USA Acquires North American Rights to Cannes Feature ‘First Love’

Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to Japanese director Takashi Miike’s First Love following its world premiere in Director’s Fortnight at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

It will be released in select theaters later this year, with the digital and home entertainment release scheduled for the first quarter of 2020.

The deal was negotiated by Doris Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA and HanWay Films with ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers.

First Love marks the fourth collaboration between Academy Awardwinning producer Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) and Miike (Blade of the Immortal, Hara-Kiri, 13 Assassins). A noir-tinged yakuza film blending genres, it’s the story of a young boxer and a call girl who fall passionately in love while getting innocently caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme over the course of one night in Tokyo. The film stars Masataka Kubota (13 AssassinsGintama 2: Rules Are Made to Be Broken, Tokyo Ghoul), Nao Omori (Ichi The Killer), Shota Sometani (Samurai Marathon) and newcomer Sakurako Konishi.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Takashi Miike is one of the most exciting filmmakers working in international cinema today,” Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO of Well Go USA, said in a statement. “His new film, First Love, continues his extraordinary track record for interesting and provocative films and audiences will be blown away.”

HanWay Films is handling worldwide sales and distribution, alongside TOEI Films who handle Asia and Australasia.