Manga picks up Astro Boy
Astro Boy, the first kids anime property to crack the North American market, is headed to home video and DVD. Chicago-based anime dealer Manga Entertainment has secured the North American distribution rights to 51 episodes of a color-animated version of Astro Boy, which started out as a black-and-white TV series created by Japanese anime legend Osamu Tezuka. Astro Boy, which follows the adventures of a boy robot, first aired in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s, and is now being developed as a film by Sony.
In March, Manga will release the first three volumes of Astro Boy on VHS (US$19.95), following up with quarterly releases thereafter (a DVD release is expected in 2004). Manga will cross-promote the titles on reissues of Astro Boy comics from Dark Horse (also due out in March), and is also trailering all of the eps on its major 2002 VHS and DVD releases. Additionally, beginning last month and running through to March 26, the company is hosting a contest on its website (www.manga.com) that offers fans the chance to win Astro Boy
T-shirts, caps and limited-edition Astro Boy cels.
Warner bulks up on comic book heroes for spring vid releases
Warner Home Video is raiding its catalog of superhero properties as it prepares to bow with a bevy of new-to-video releases on April 23. Leading the charge will be a single episode title culled from Warner’s animated TV show Justice League, available on VHS (US$14.95) and DVD (US$19.98); three X-Men: Evolution eps–’X Marks the Spot,’ ‘Xplosive Days’ and ‘UnXpected Changes’–available on two separate VHS tapes (US$12.95 each); and five Batman Beyond releases, including Batman: The Animated Series–The Legend Begins, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, The Batman Superman Movie and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, available in both rated and uncut versions on VHS (US$14.98) and DVD (US$19.98). Promotionally, Warner will be supporting its superhero collections, which all prebook on March 26, with a US$5 rebate to consumers who buy Justice League and any two Batman or X-Men videos. Warner will also market the titles through TV, print and on-line ads starting in early April.