An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 7: A Fox in a Box and a 4Kids with a Block (2002 cont.)

In January of 2002, Al Kahn made a four-year deal with Fox to take over their Saturday morning kids’ programming block, Fox Kids, for $101.2 million, nudging out competitors DiC and Nelvana to get the spot. This was particularly sweet for them because Fox Kids used to be the home of Digimon, one of Pokemon’s biggest competitors. The deal gave 4Kids full control over everything shown in that window of air time, as long as it fit Fox’s standards and practices, and it also gave 4Kids every penny of the advertising revenue from that spot.

The new block would be titled Fox Box until three years later when it would be renamed, what else – 4Kids TV. 4Kids would not be moving away from their usual home of Kids WB – at least not entirely. Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! in particular were not moving to the new Fox block, in a supposed show of loyalty to the WB. Not entirely sure I believe that’s the real reason, especially since Warner Bros. recently didn’t feel any loyalty towards 4Kids when they dropped the movies from distribution, but what do I know?

The deal seemed pretty great at the time. Kahn in particular seemed very happy about the decision and the potential for growth for each company. And a great deal it was. 4Kids didn’t even have to pay the $101.2 million up front. They had a leasing deal in which they’d pay Fox $25.3 million each year. All 4Kids had to do was fill the block with content – one of which being required to fit educational and informative requirements. Some shows they acquired from third-party sources, but the majority of their lineup was either western animation shows that they produced or from anime they had dubbed.

4Kids had four new shows to launch during the premiere of the Fox Box; Ultraman Tiga, Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, Ultimate Muscle and Fighting Foodons.

Ultraman Tiga was, in my opinion, 4Kids’ attempt to compete with Saban for their Power Rangers audience, even if the Power Rangers boom of the mid 90s was pretty much over by that point. It still had steam, but it wasn’t as massive as it was with Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. At this point in time, they were airing Wild Force, which was their tenth season/series.

4Kids didn’t do any better job at dubbing Ultraman Tiga than they did with any other show they dubbed. The typical changes were made – new theme song, completely replace the soundtrack, names of items, abilities etc. are changed, and storylines were changed, there was a much more humorous tone added with many more jokes, although, interestingly, everyone’s characters retain their original names. The aspect of the stories being changed was blamed on Fox’s standards and practices clause, not on 4Kids themselves, but I can’t be too sure.

Unlike what Saban did to Super Sentai when they created Power Rangers, 4Kids didn’t opt to film an entirely new show with American actors and only splice in scenes from the original show when it suited the new one. They just dubbed the original footage into English.

Despite getting the rights to dub all 52 episodes, 4Kids dropped the show at episode 23 due to low ratings. According to Erica Schroeder, a voice actor in the show, a part of the reason Ultraman Tiga flopped was because they couldn’t decide whether it was a serious show or a parody.

I never saw this series when it was airing, but I did find an episode on Youtube, and even in episode one this problem is clear. A lot of the episode will go by being entirely serious, but then they’ll suddenly interject with a weirdly out of place joke. Like how when they learn Easter Island is being attacked by a giant monster, one of the characters says it reminds him of his mother-in-law, and Daigo, the main character, says their mother-in-law’s nose is bigger than the monster’s.

One clip I found on Youtube has one of the enemies claiming he’ll capture all of humanity, shrink them down into collectibles and everyone will be trading them back on their home planet – claiming that they’ll be “Bigger than Pokemon.” TV Tropes claims it is clearly a parody, specifically parodying the 1966 Titra Studios dub of the original Ultraman, which, if true, is equally confusing. Like any kid would ever get that.

It’s almost like they were trying to reach the same balance of humor/cheesiness with action/seriousness that Power Rangers is known for, but just couldn’t achieve the right result. It’s a shame, because, honestly, I did find the show to be perfectly watchable. It’s not great, but it’s fine. Not sure it ever would have been a favorite of mine as a kid, especially since I was pretty well out of my Power Rangers phase at that point, but I can totally see myself enjoying it back then on Saturday mornings.

In a really weird twist, 4Kids didn’t release the episodes they had dubbed on DVD. Instead, they released all of the Japanese episodes uncut on DVD. The dub was originally lost, with copies only being available through recordings people had when the episodes originally aired. Nineteen of these episodes have been found, remastered (Using HD footage from the original Japanese version) and released on Youtube by a user named Gorizard, if you want to check them out. Also, if you have access to the remaining missing episodes, please go drop the Lost Wiki a line.

Their next show to premiere on the Fox Box was Kirby: Right Back at Ya! – originally known in Japan as Kirby of the Stars. Believe it or not, even a show based on a character as innocent as Kirby didn’t get away without being edited.

As was now the norm for all of their dubs, 4Kids removed any instances of text, usually Japanese, but also commonly English, they got a brand new theme song and opening sequence as well as an entirely new soundtrack, some instances of violence were cut, many of the names were changed, some swearing was removed, the characters announcing their attacks was removed, references to alcohol were removed, one instance of fanservice was edited, and an entire subplot was removed. There was also one episode, A Dental Dilemma, that was never aired, but this was also supposedly because of Fox’s standards and practices. As Michael Haigney stated during an interview with Anime Boredom,

“The Standards & Practices woman at Fox felt that the whole show dental care in a terrible light and that airing it might discourage children from going to the dentist. Actually, Escargoon had to go to the dentist because he had taken terrible care of his teeth, so there was a positive message in the show, but in a kind of negative way. (The Japanese have a very different sensibility in some things.) I saw the woman’s point, though the show was obviously (I hope) a comedy. After some back and forth, we decided to release the unaired show as a bonus on one of the Kirby DVDs.”

Edit: Apparently, while the episode was initially removed from airing, the episode was eventually aired during season three

Even the broadcasting of the show had to be messed with. Some episodes were aired out of order to better suit 4Kids’ marketing – such as when they moved some episodes to coincide with the release of new Kirby games, and one instance where, not kidding, they shifted the airing of an episode that was parodying Harry Potter for the sake of mooching off of the upcoming release of one of the books.

There was even one time where they moved episodes from near the end of the series, episodes 96 and 97, to much earlier than they were set to air to help promote Kirby Air Ride on the GameCube. To avoid people getting upset at spoiling parts of the finale, they edited the episodes to make it seem like the characters were having a prophetic dream and aired the episodes as a special called Air Ride in Style.

Despite this, from all I’ve read online, fans seem to claim Kirby: Right Back at Ya! is one of their better dubs – only the various terrible accents bother them for the most part.

However, just as many other people claimed the series was an empty excuse for random monster fighting or mindless toddler stuff that even seemed out of place on a block like the Fox Box.

While the Wiki page acts as if the show got a full DVD release by 4Kids and Funimation, it really didn’t. In 2003, it got three volumes worth of releases, which, by 4Kids’ DVD logic, means just a pitiful nine episodes were released. Considering Kirby: Right Back At Ya!! has 100 episodes, that means, if they kept this pace, it would have taken them over 30 volumes to release the entire series.

They did release a bundle of the final five episodes in the DVD Kirby: Fright to the Finish!! though they were edited together to make a “movie” (They announced it as a new feature film even though it wasn’t….) The DVD also included a bonus episode, Hour of the WolfWrath (episode 24). They released two other compilation DVDs after that three years later.

In 2008, they released Kirby’s Adventures in Cappytown…..which was just a re-release of the first seven episodes….and, finally, they released Cappy New Year and Other Kirby Adventures, which also re-released episodes eight and nine, but also finally released episode ten, eleven, twe–eh thirteen, fourteen and 29, which was the titular Cappy New Year. According to a moderator on 4Kids’ forums, 4Kids lost the rights to Kirby in 2009 so no more DVDs surfaced after that. In 2012, three episodes of the show were included on the disk for the GameCube game, Kirby’s Dream Collection, episode one (again), episode 60 and episode 72. Altogether, that means 76 episodes of the show have never seen a DVD release.

Next up was 4Kids’ dub of Kinnukuman Nisei, retitled by 4Kids to be Ultimate Muscle. In a surprising turn of events, Ultimate Muscle would prove to be one of 4Kids most successful dubs, despite having the hallmarks of nearly all of their dubs, such as changing the names, censoring violence and some sexual-ish/nudity-ish content, removing English and Japanese text etc. Ultimate Muscle would also have the first instances of 4Kids changing the ethnicity of certain characters, although only audibly – Check Mate was originally from Monaco, but 4Kids gave him a British accent. There was Buffaloman, who was originally from Spain, but was changed to be Russian. They made The Ninja, who was originally Japanese, American. Perhaps the most ‘Do we need to point out what’s wrong here?’ moment of ethnicity changes was Geronimo who was originally Native American but was changed to British as well.

Unlike Ultraman Tiga, 4Kids seemed to know for certain that they wanted Ultimate Muscle to be almost entirely comedy-focused to the point of parody, and they made the right call. The series would be praised for its strong sense of humor, light tone and fun characters. They even broke the fourth wall regularly and kept numerous innuendos from the original series in addition to making their own, such as naming a character Dik-Dik Van Dik.

4Kids’ dub of Ultimate Muscle did much better than its Japanese counterpart, which got canceled after 51 episodes and running for one year due to low ratings. The ratings in the west were so good that 4Kids called the original production company, Toei, up and requested them to make two more seasons of the show that would be marketed as spin-offs in Japan. Despite the lousy ratings in Japan, TV Tokyo and Toei agreed. The spin-offs in Japan would be titled Kinnukuman Nisei: Ultimate Muscle and Kinnukuman Second Generation: Ultimate Muscle 2. Whether at the behest of 4Kids or because Toei thought it would be a better move, the next two seasons would be more American focused. Like the original series, neither spin-off did well in Japan, but the continuation of the series was very successful for 4Kids.

Oddly, however, as far as I can tell, Ultimate Muscle only got two DVD releases in America, which contained the first nine episodes of the series. In Japan, however, both of the spin-off series they made would get full box-set releases, which has to be one of the more backwards things I’ve heard recently.

I remember seeing bits and pieces of Ultimate Muscle when it was airing, but I never really followed it. However, finding some clips for research and seeing how beloved it’s remembered by fans, I think I’ll keep it in my back pocket and watch it sometime in the future.

Finally, 4Kids dubbed Martial Arts Cooking Legend Bistro Recipe, which they would retitle to Fighting Foodons. Despite there being very little information on this title, the manga of this series was popular enough to warrant two spin-off Game Boy Color games, neither of which got released outside of Japan, and a Wonderswan game, which obviously never released outside of Japan either. The anime version was less successful. It ran for 26 episodes, completing its run after airing between December of 2001 and June of 2002. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been aired in Japan after this.

Since the series was doing poorly and they only had two volumes of manga to work from anyway (I don’t know if the manga got canceled or just ended), the series was discontinued. Enoki Films, who currently own the rights to the franchise, never released the show on any form on home video, nor did the manga, which was obscure in its own right, get any English translation (not even a fan scanlation), making the series largely lost to time.

Sometime in 2002, while the original show was airing in Japan, 4Kids purchased the rights to dub the show. Their run of the show started on September 14, 2002 and ended on August 30, 2003. Despite not being all that popular State-side either, the show did garner a cult following because of its strange premise and, like Ultimate Muscle, its sense of humor. In fact, from what I found, many fans who seem to have watched the original find the dub to be at least fairly loyal to the original while some have gone so far as to say the dub is better. However, I did also find a THEM review that completely steamrolled it, claiming it was the worst Pokemon rip-off that, unlike Ultimate Muscle, wasn’t fun or funny, but instead was annoying and boring.

The information available online is sparse. Even the Fandom page for the franchise doesn’t have a lot of content.

Trying to find any information on what changed between the original version and 4Kids’ dub of Fighting Foodons is very difficult since the Japanese version was never released on home video, and the raws, at least as far as I can tell, aren’t available anywhere online either. I’m 99% certain the only copies of the Japanese version are in Enoki’s hands, and they don’t seem interested in releasing them.

As far as I can tell, most of the regular 4Kids cuts are present. Completely change the score, change the opening theme song (set to, of all things, a bastardization of Jacques Offenbach’s ‘Orpheus of the Underworld’?) changed the names, removed all text, removed smoking etc. Names of certain Asian dishes represented in the show were also changed to food more familiar to Americans, even if many of the dishes were still not entirely unfamiliar to Americans because, well, we have Asian foods in America all the time. Not only were the names localized, but they made puns out of the names. For example, a Foodon called Meat Sauce was changed to Spaghettabout-It. Chorizon, based on a Chorizo, was changed to Hot Doggone-It. Curry was changed to Curry-Up. And Kobe Beef was changed to Sir Loin.

There was one clear instance of digitally painting away pistols to make them into ketchup and mustard shooters, and that also seems to be something people noted in other discussion threads about the show’s dub.

The show never did that well in America either, so the fact that they only had the 26 episodes was no real skin off of 4Kids’ nose. However, apparently, the show did have a strong enough cult following to prompt Discotek, who bought the rights to the show after 4Kids went defunct, to release the dub on DVD in 2017. While the box art for their DVDs had uncensored images of a character smoking (right on the spine, so it’s not really an oversight) and Hot Doggone-It, the character whose pistols were changed to ketchup and mustard bottles, with his uncensored pistols right there on display (as the main art on one of the discs, even, so it’s a clear closeup) the footage was the same edited version as shown on the Fox Box.

I never watched Fighting Foodons, but I definitely remember the moment when I first heard that random-ass theme song. Why is their theme song the Can-Can? Is it because it’s public domain and they didn’t want to bother having an original song made?

Other notes for 2002 include the acquisition of several properties for syndication broadcast such as Cramp Twins, which was very popular in the UK, and Pirate Islands, a live-action pirate-themed action-adventure show from Australia that prompted Al Kahn to say this cringey paragraph;

“Pirate Islands combines practically everything that kids love: high-flying adventure, an exotic pirate story and fast-paced video game-style action. The only thing missing is chocolate. If this isn’t a sure-fire hit… I’m walking the plank!”

Al Kahn was then eaten by a shark because I don’t remember this ever being a thing anywhere. I imagine it was more successful in Australia, but the generic title makes it really hard to find much information on it. The ratings that are around seem pretty middle of the road, though.

Oh as a final note to close out 2002, 4Kids also picked up some little known license. Teenage Mutant something or other. I forget.

Overall, 4Kids saw a 28% rise in 2002 from $41,538,000 in consolidated net revenues in 2001 to $53,140,000 in 2002, attributed to their returns from the Fox Box, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon and Cabbage Patch Kids, but production costs increased 137% to $3,375,000 as a result of taking on more properties than ever before, and their net income was actually down nearly half of 2001’s net profits with $6,990,000 in 2002 compared to $12,244,000 in 2001.

Next – Part 8: Miramax Killed the Movie Theater Star

Previous – Part 6: 4Kids 4Ever

If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at

An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 6: 4Kids 4Ever (2002)

As 4Kids entered 2002, they were sitting fairly pretty. They now had two successful cash cow franchises under their belts along with a slue of other non-anime-related licensing deals to create various sources of income. In 2000, they had even topped Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies list. It seemed 4Kids was overdue to be hoist from their petard and make their first big fumble.

As 4Kids was dubbing the fourth season of Pokemon, Johto League Champions, they dubbed the fourth Pokemon movie, Pocket Monsters the Movie: Celebi – A Timeless Encounter, and retitled it Pokemon 4Ever, which is a title that has so many hilarious layers to it, especially in hindsight, it’s almost impressive.

Since Pokemon’s returns were on the decline, especially in the theaters, Warner Bros. bowed out of distributing the fourth Pokemon movie, meaning 4Kids had to find someone else to take the reins. Why they chose Miramax is unclear, but the company was owned by Disney at the time, and Disney had recently been dipping their toes in the anime market after gaining the dubbing and distribution rights to Studio Ghibli movies to varying degrees of success.

Their first Ghibli outing, Kiki’s Delivery Service, was a fairly strong success, but when they gave another Ghibli title, Princess Mononoke, to their subsidiary, Miramax, things did not go nearly as well.

Miramax was helmed by famed piece of burning ultra garbage, Harvey Weinstein, and he wanted to make significant cuts to the film. According to Production Manager, Steve Alpert, who had spent 15 years as Senior Executive at Studio Ghibli, Weinstein wanted to cut 45 minutes from the film, even though he reportedly had promised Hiyao Miyazaki that he wouldn’t cut the film at all. Alpert told him Miyazaki would never agree to that. In response, Weinstein rationally and calmly…..yelled at the top of his lungs in a fit of unbridled rage, “‘If you don’t get him to cut the fucking film you will NEVER WORK IN THIS FUCKING INDUSTRY AGAIN! DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND ME?!! NEVER!!’”

Alpert, who didn’t get him to cut the fucking film, would go on to work in that fucking industry for another decade before retiring and becoming an author discussing his experiences in that fucking industry.

In response to the news that Weinstein intended on cutting the film, one of Miyazaki’s producers famously sent Weinstein a katana with a message that said simply “No cuts.” Disney’s deal with Ghibli required the company and Miyazaki have consent over any changes, a clause that was likely spurred from being burned by Manson International when they dubbed and horrifically mutilated Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Weinstein was massively pissed at this rejection.

In an interview in 2002, when asked about his penchant of heavily editing films acquired from foreign markets, Weinstein replied, “I’m not cutting for fun. I’m cutting for this shit to work. All my life, I’ve served one master: the film. I love movies.”

Speaking of which, guys, I love paintings. I love them so much I bought The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. Then I cut it up into tiny pieces, threw away a bunch of them, and superglued what was left, grabbed a Sharpie and drew a butt farting. Thank god. Now American audiences can finally appreciate this wonderful painting.

Princess Mononoke was released uncut, but was not very successful financially upon initial release. It made Disney so wary of their new territory that they didn’t release the already-dubbed Castle in the Sky until 2003, after their release of Spirited Away, this time handled by John Lasseter of Pixar, did significantly better, even if it still wasn’t a massive financial success.

Which brings us back around to the question of why 4Kids chose Miramax. If they’re so geared towards money, why would they choose a company whose only anime title under their belt wasn’t very successful and had been lead by someone like Harvey Weinstein?

Harvey Weinstein had only offered $1mil up front to get the international distribution rights to Pokemon Movies 04 and 05 from 4Kids, but he also offered 75% of back-end profits, which is a very good deal in the long term. Chances are that they also didn’t have that many companies vying for the rights anyway, so Miramax won out.

Harvey Weinstein was reportedly very optimistic about the movies’ future success State-side, despite the fact that the fandom was waning, and the movies had been in such a steady decline since the first entry that low profits was the reason Warner Bros. gave up to begin with. Weinstein thought he could “reinvigorate” the Pokemon franchise and that they’d come up with a “bolder, smarter marketing concept.” which is equally confusing.

4Kids technically wasn’t doing anything wrong in the marketing department. Interest in the franchise was just decreasing, and that’s to be expected, to some degree. Original fans were growing out of Pokemon a bit, and newer younger fans had yet to come into it. It’s true 4Kids lightened up on advertising as the movies went on, but that was probably because they knew the returns, no matter the marketing, weren’t going to be as strong as based on their numbers for revenue from the TV show and whatever they got from toys, games and the TCG. Plus, they might be able to gauge success based on how well the movie did in the Japanese box office.

There wasn’t much wrong with the franchise either – it’s just that the movies weren’t heralding as much attention. And that also makes sense because initial interest in a brand-new franchise that had already exploded elsewhere would most likely be incredible. The second entry would lose its initial mystique, but still be very appealing. People would start to get a little tired of the formula by the third.

Not to mention that, the more the series goes on, the more niche it gets. Moviegoers who aren’t very familiar with the series won’t feel compelled to watch installments of a movie franchise beyond the first one unless they become fans of the TV show or games after that. Pokemon the First Movie was more or less accessible to everyone because it was new to pretty much everyone. It was a starting point, even if it did have a slight learning curve in catching onto Pokemon names and certain mechanics.

The same cannot be said for sequels. Even if fans understand that they’re usually contained stories, people who are less familiar might not. If you ask someone if they want to watch a first movie of any franchise, there’s a much higher chance they’ll agree than if you ask if they want to watch the fourth without having seen the first three. I imagine that’s why they constantly introduce every single Pokemon movie with ‘The World of Pokemon’ intro. You have to give a baseline each time to help catch any new people up with how this world works.

What makes this claim even more confusing is that Miramax did the polar opposite of what they said they would do. They didn’t reinvigorate the movie franchise – they brought it out behind a shed to beat it with a rake.

Apparently, Weinstein’s idea of “bolder, smarter marketing concept(s)” is to basically do as little promotion as humanly possible. They made precisely one poster for it, which also ended up being the DVD art, one trailer (TrailerAddict has two listed, but they’re both EXACTLY the same barring the slight change to the Miramax Films logo….) which I can’t remember seeing anywhere whatsoever, and only released the movie in very few theaters. To put it into perspective, Pokemon the First Movie was released in 3,043 theaters. Pokemon the Movie 2000 was released in 2,752 theaters. Pokemon 3 was released in 2,675 theaters.

Pokemon 4Ever was released in……..
















249 theaters overall.

No, that’s not a typo.

249 theaters.

Wizards and 4Kids apparently still wanted to do their card promo, so, once again, any lucky American theatergoer to actually know that this movie existed and was in a theater near them could obtain a promotional Celebi card with their ticket purchase as long as supplies lasted. And supplies did last, because no one saw this movie in theaters. A promotional Suicune card would be included in the later DVD release.

Obviously, Pokemon 4Ever was not financially successful….at all.

In its opening weekend, Pokemon 3 managed to snag around $8.2 million.

In its opening weekend, Pokemon 4Ever scrounged together $717,061.

Again, no, that’s not a typo.

Pokemon 3 ended its run with a return of $17,052,128 from the box office.

Pokemon 4Ever ended its run with a return of $1,727,239.

One last time. Not a typo.

Pokemon 4Ever had become the franchise’s first complete flop.

But not all of the blame can be put on Miramax’s shoulders….Although, a lot of it can be. Not only did 4Kids not do nearly as much of its own promotion as it normally would, not making any new toys or anything as far as I can see, but 4Kids also mutilated this movie so badly that it was being compared with the first movie in that it had so much altered and, oddly, added to it instead of removed.

4Kids, in one of their most confusing moves ever, contracted out the original animation company of Pokemon, OLM, to have three new scenes added to the movie. The reason for two of these scenes was for the sake of making the ‘big twist’ of the movie be more obvious to the audience, even though it absolutely 1000% didn’t have to be. Not only was it already fairly easy to figure out given the clues the original already had, but the revelation wasn’t anything significant or mind-bending. It was more like a ‘Huh…..okay.’ kind of thing. However, those at 4Kids didn’t get this twist when they watched it, so they decided they needed to make it more obvious for kids, even if the twist has absolutely no bearing on the movie at all besides basically being a cool Easter egg.

The third scene was the most confusing. It was an entirely pointless scene of Team Rocket just kinda bantering and having a slight moment of slapstick. It didn’t contribute to the big reveal at all, so why they bothered having that scene made is a huge mystery. There’s no information on how much 4Kids spent to have these scenes made for the movie, but the more petty side of me hopes it was more than $1,727,139.

In a very surprising, but welcome, move, 4Kids did keep the soundtrack to the movie barring the opening theme song and the end credits song. I have no idea why. I would say it was to save money, but their completely flippant waste of however much money they spent on the extra scenes blows that idea out of the water. Some people speculate they started having issues with The Pokemon Company or Nintendo about replacing the soundtracks, but I can’t find anything concrete on any theory. As a result, this is the first Pokemon movie without an accompanied English soundtrack. There is a Japanese one, but it was never released in the west.

Unlike the previous two movies, which had only received slightly better critic reviews as they went on, Pokemon 4Ever’s critical response was very much negative, earning it the reputation of being the worst film of the four that had been released at the time, with many critics claiming it was dull, boring, paced poorly and emotionally manipulative.

As with the first three movies, the fourth installment also premiered with a short, this time Pikachu’s Pikaboo. However, for the first time ever, the short was not included in the theatrical release. Yet again flipping on their head, 4Kids did absolutely no editing to the short outside of just changing the title card to an English one and creating new theme songs. They even kept the end credits sequence, which leads me to believe they knew Miramax wasn’t going to include the short in theaters and were perfectly fine with that.

Speaking of Miramax, it’s time to shift speculation on this situation to something a little more sinister.

I’ve been keeping something from you. One of the worst things to happen to the Pokemon movies, at least internationally.

When Miramax bought the international distribution rights to Pokemon 4Ever and Pokemon Heroes, and later Movies 06 and 07, because for some reason they thought it was a good idea to give them the rights to even more movies after this disaster, they bought them permanently. As in, to this day they still have the international distribution rights to Movies 04-07. And TPC cannot do a damn thing about it. They can’t get the international rights back, they can’t stream any of the English dubbed movies on Pokemon TV or release the movies outside of Asia. Not even Disney XD was allowed to air the movies on TV when it aired a Pokemon marathon after they gained some distribution rights. Miramax or Paramount, who currently owns Miramax, are the only ones who can.

It seems this wasn’t out of character either as Weinstein had made a habit out of shady business practices like this, such as putting a hold on the release of certain films, particularly foreign films and arty films, so he could abuse a loophole in a bonus deal he had made with Jeffery Katzenberg and make as much money as he possibly could for himself. As Edward Jay Epstein of Slate put it, he was “hemorrhaging rivers of red ink.”

Miramax clearly did a better job promoting the DVD release than they did the theatrical release. I actually remember commercials for the Pokemon 4Ever DVD release constantly playing on TV, and it did both alert me to the fact that this movie existed and prompted me to buy a copy.

My conspiratorial head believes Miramax initially set it up for a permanent deal so they could keep milking DVD and other home video releases forever, even if they only got 25% of the share. Getting 25% of the back-end of a largely expensive theater release that would compare with the previous three movies, while also paying for promotional materials, and getting pitiful returns likely didn’t seem appealing to them. Churning out cheap DVDs and milking them until the end of time was likely much more appealing, especially if they could lure more people into buying the DVD by including the exclusive short, Pikachu’s Pikaboo, on it.

Pokemon was still very popular, and they likely figured it would still have a consistent following for years, even if the hype was dying down. They would still keep making money on the DVDs no matter what, and the theatrical releases were likely part of the contract (at least for Movies 04 and 05) that they simply had to uphold. At any rate, they would certainly make back their $1mil investment and then some.

However, this situation is still confusing because they’ve largely ignored these movies for years. They have been re-released a couple of times, but not to anywhere near the extent you’d think would be necessary to justify not just selling the rights back to TPC, whom I’m sure would pay reasonably for them.

What’s especially insulting is that Miramax basically scammed people with the re-releases. Despite the original DVD having the short, multiple special features and subtitles, the re-releases it had after that didn’t have the short, any other special features or subtitles, even though all of those things were listed on the covers. The only thing the re-releases have over the initial release is being in 16:9 widescreen instead of the cropped 4:3. What’s even funnier is that they released a Blu-Ray collector’s set containing all four of the held movies (on one disc) in 2012 and, again, they just re-used the poster art for Pokemon 4Ever for the box art.

This cover doesn’t even say which movies (in a manner that kinda misleads you into thinking that it has the first four movies, not Movies 04-07) or includes some of the other Legendaries to the front. It’s one of the laziest DVD covers for a movie collection I’ve ever seen.

What’s confuses me even more is why 4Kids and/or TPC even let Miramax buy the permanent international rights. 75% of the back-end profits is appealing, but, if you ask me, running risk of a company – one that barely has any experience whatsoever with anime, the experience they did have was terrible, and was lead by the human embodiment of all things awful – holding your films hostage forever doesn’t seem worth it.

But 4Kids being 4Kids, they were frequently planning for bigger things. Right as everything was being mucked up with Miramax, 4Kids was making a deal to expand their anime reach even further.

Next – Part 7: A Fox in a Box and a 4Kids with a Block

Previous – Part 5: I Summon Yu-Gi-Oh! in Attack Mode!

If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at