Funimation Releasing Classic Anime Series ‘Robotech’ on Streaming Channel, Blu-ray

Funimation is bringing the “Robotech” franchise to its service this fall via streaming, Blu-ray and licensed products.

The space opera anime epic about humans defending their homeworld against alien domination, produced by Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko Productions, introduced an entire generation of viewers to anime when it first premiered in 1985.

Funimation will be premiering 85 episodes of the series — told over three sagas — on its streaming service worldwide (except Japan) and will debut a collector’s edition box set on Blu-ray in Dolby Digital on Sept. 28 and through a series of licensed product partnerships.

The “Robotech” home entertainment collector’s edition, available exclusively at Funimation Shop, is remastered for the first time on Blu-ray. The remastering will be faithful to the preceding DVD box set release and retain a classic “film grain.” The set also includes retro packaging design, an exclusive Variant Transforming Robotech — Roy Fokker’s VF-1S;  an exclusive Variant Action Figure — Roy Fokker in Pilot Uniform Variant Shade of Black; and a series of Robotech-embroidered patches.

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Funimation now has rights to “Robotech” merchandise and will begin to roll out the products this summer, including the new game on Switch (Robotech Macross Saga HD) and WAX’s “Robotech” Series 1 NFTs released on the digital blockchain.

“Robotech is a beloved series and an integral part of anime history,” Mitchel Berger, Funimation Global Group’s SVP of commerce, said in a statement. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage the original passionate fans from decades ago and also expose a whole new generation to this classic series.”

Headquartered in the United States and connected by a global network, Funimation serves fandom in more than 49 countries and 10 languages.

Funimation is an independently-operated joint venture between U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Japan’s Aniplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), both subsidiaries of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corp.

Sony Corp. CEO: Sony Pictures Not For Sale

Following separate high-profile industry mergers involving WarnerMedia and Discovery, and Amazon and MGM, Sony Pictures, which has no branded streaming service, might seem a logical acquisition target.

Not happening, according to Sony Corp. CEO Kenichiro Yoshida. In an interview with the Financial Times, Yoshida said the studio remains key to Sony’s ongoing strategy distributing content across music, films, video games and animation. Observers contend Sony Pictures Entertainment could fetch upwards of $30 billion on the M&A market.

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“There is a drastic realignment in the media industry, but I think our strategy of creating content as an independent studio while working with various partners will work,” Yoshida said.

Indeed, rather than try and reinvent the streaming video wheel with a branded service as Warner Bros., Disney, Lionsgate and Paramount have done, Sony Pictures inked separate Pay 1 deals with Netflix and Disney+, among others.

“I think the reason we were able to sign good deals with Netflix and Disney is because they were attracted to our PlayStation Productions pipeline,” Yoshida said. “We can strengthen our ability to create content through such group-wide collaboration.”

The CEO admitted the company had looked at MGM, which Amazon acquired for $8.45 billion, which includes distribution rights to “James Bond” movies. Sony, like Comcast, had reportedly valued MGM’s assets around $6 billion.

“I think MGM has an incredible library, but everything comes with a price and that needs to be considered,” Yoshida said.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment reported fourth-quarter and fiscal-year 2020 (ended March 31) revenue of $139 million and $778 million respectively. That was down 54% ($164 million) and 15% ($140 million), respectively, from the previous-year period that ended just as the COVID-19 pandemic started. Overall studio revenue dropped 24% to $7.1 billion, from $9.3 billion in fiscal-year 2019.

 

TiVo Extends IP Licensing Agreement With Sony

TiVo Feb. 2 announced a multiyear extension of agreements for its patent portfolios with Sony Corp. Since creating the digital video recorder decades ago, TiVo has created myriad software and technology patents enabling media companies to record, store, find, sell and rent video entertainment.

TiVo’s innovations make it easier for viewers to find and watch content across a multitude of platforms, including television (i.e. Sony Bravia), laptops, desktop PCs and portable devices.

“We are proud to extend our licensing agreements with Sony,” Samir Armaly, president of intellectual property at Xperi Corp., corporate parent of TiVo, said in a statement. “Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology, and we are excited to build on our long-standing relationship with them.”

Vudu Service Launches on PlayStation 5

Vudu, the transactional video-on-demand service owned by Fandango, is available on Sony Interactive Entertainment’s next-generation PlayStation 5 game console at launch Nov. 12, the company announced.

Vudu, which was already available on the PS4, offers more than 150,000 movies and TV shows, including thousands of titles in 4K.

“As longtime fans know, PlayStation consoles are not just for playing games; they’re one of the most widely-used media hubs and a popular way to stream entertainment content at home,” read a Fandango press release. “With Vudu on PS5, fans can watch more movies and TV shows from the comfort of their home with no subscription required.”

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“Vudu is focused on delivering fans the latest new-elease and premium event titles, as well as our comprehensive catalog of movies and TV shows, and we’re thrilled to offer all of that content on PS5 at launch,” says Kevin Shepela, EVP, chief commercial officer, Fandango. “It’s a great time for fans to find their favorites to stream on their consoles, as we head toward the holidays and our Thanksgiving week sales.”

New movies coming to Vudu this month include Come Away (Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo), The New Mutants (Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy), The Personal History of David Copperfield (Dev Patel), Dreamland (Margot Robbie), along with thousands of films and TV shows on sale during Thanksgiving week and that are not yet available on subscription services.

Sony New-Generation Video Game Platform PS5 Unveiling Set for June 11

Sony Corp. June 9 announced it has rescheduled the public unveiling of the PlayStation 5 gaming platform for June 11 at 1 p.m. PT on Twitch or YouTube. The event was originally slated for June 4, but delayed due to the social unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

“We needed to step aside so key voices could be heard during this historic and important time,” Sony said in a blog post.

The pre-taped event to be streamed in 1080p at 30 frames per second will showcase new games for PS5, among other features. The console is set to release in retail channels for the winter holidays.

Competitors Sony and Microsoft Ink Entertainment Innovation Partnership

Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. May 16 announced that the two companies will partner on new innovations to enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms and AI solutions.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties, the two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services. In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services.

“By working together, the companies aim to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers,” read a joint press release. “These efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community.”

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As part of the memorandum of understanding, Sony and Microsoft will also explore collaboration in the areas of semiconductors and AI. For semiconductors, this includes potential joint development of new intelligent image sensor solutions. By integrating Sony’s image sensors with Microsoft’s Azure AI technology in a hybrid manner across cloud and edge, as well as solutions that leverage Sony’s semiconductors and Microsoft cloud technology, the companies aim to provide enhanced capabilities for enterprise customers. In terms of AI, the parties will explore incorporation of Microsoft’s advanced AI platform and tools in Sony consumer products, to provide highly intuitive and user-friendly AI experiences.

“Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, we provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO of Sony, in a statement. “PlayStation itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology. Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere. For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas. I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content. Additionally, I hope that in the areas of semiconductors and AI, leveraging each company’s cutting-edge technology in a mutually complementary way will lead to the creation of new value for society.”

“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a statement. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”

Sony Has High Hopes for the ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ In-Home Entertainment Experience

Buoyed by the box office and Golden Globes success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony Electronics used the animated movie as a cornerstone to its CES 2019 presentation Jan. 8 in Las Vegas.

Following opening comments about Sony’s new “communities of interest” company culture, interlinking consumers with creators and technology from CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s motion picture group, spoke about how strong entertainment content and intellectual property are crucial to fulfilling the studio’s vision in the theater and in the home.

“A critical part of the lifespan of movie content is the home entertainment window following its theatrical moment,” said Rothman. “And audiences, watching great films and television content at home, want the best home theater experience.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has generated $276 million at the global box office and won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Motion Picture.

Using the visuals, storytelling and technology behind Into the Spider-Verse, Kristine Belson, president Sony Pictures Animation, said animated movies generally have a long life at retail in the home entertainment window.

“It’s truly so important to filmmakers and audiences,” said Belson.

She went on to describe how Sony’s technology and products help turn creators’ vision into reality. Belson cited examples such as Sony’s CineAlta Camera Venice and α9 full-frame mirrorless camera that are used in the creation of TV shows and movies.

She also highlighted Sony’s new 8K TV lineup, including the Bravia Master Series that Sony claims adapts the creators’ artistic intent in the home.

The Master Series Z9G (98-inch/85-inch) is Sony’s first series of 8K LCD TVs, featuring the next-generation image processor X1 Ultimate equipped with 8K ultra-resolution algorithm custom database, enabling to up-convert any content to 8K resolution.