No doubt buoyed by the recent box-office fortunes of another Japanime TV property, Saban Entertainment has decided to greenlight the release of a theatrical feature based on the kids TV show Digimon: Digital Monsters.
Saban, which adapted the Toei Animation-produced TV show for Fox Kids Network and controls the North American merchandising rights to a number of categories for Digimon, has awarded the North American distribution rights to Twentieth Century Fox, which will release the film to theaters some time in Q3 or Q4 of this year, according to an industry source close to both companies.
The as-yet-unnamed movie will combine two Toei Animation-produced mini features-Digimon Adventure, which was released in Japan last month, and Bokura No War Game, which is slated to hit Japanese screens later this spring-both of which Saban will adapt for North American audiences.
As per the distribution agreement, Twentieth Century Fox will spearhead the marketing campaign for the film. In terms of developing a licensing program around the movie, however, the same source says that both Saban and Bandai, which controls the North American master toy, video game and trading card game licenses for Digimon, will be taking a wait-and-see approach. As of January, licensed Digimon merchandise had reportedly generated US$75 million in sales.
Since hitting the airwaves on Fox Kids Network last August, Digimon has garnered a large kid following and is currently the highest-rated show on the network. Fox Kids Europe recently purchased the U.K. and French all-media rights to the show from Toei, and Digimon will air in the U.K. on Fox Kids Channel on April 1 and later in the summer on ITV. In France, the series is slated to appear on the TF1 Network and Fox Kids France, starting in September.