Prior to Beez's own stand-alone panel at the Amecon convention currently running at Keele university, both Andrew Partridge of Beez Entertainment and Tony Allen of MVM sat down to discuss a number of issues and take questions as part of the event's "State of the Industry" panel.
First up to bat at the convention's industry panel was MVM, who confirmed that they had no new anime acquisitions to announce, although they were hoping to have some new shows to talk about come 2011.
On the anime side of things, MVM confirmed that September 6th would see the first part of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit released, marking a first for MVM as they move away from single disc releases towards a two-disc release for the first part of this particular title. Despite this, Blade of the Immortal will stick with single disc releases over three volumes, due primarily to the substantial cost of attaining the UK license.
The only other license confirmation was again regarding the two new series from the Slayers franchise, Revolution and Evolution-R), while MVM also discussed the "fat pack" releases of older series at respectable prices, with about four titles released per month.
Again, Tony confirmed just how much more profitable releasing live-action Japanese titles is compared to anime, comparing sales of around 20,000 units for live-action offerings compared to just a few hundred for an anime title, with even "B-movie" releases of live-action films making it into supermarkets such as ASDA with decent sales to boot.
Blu-Ray releases were also discussed, with MVM admitting that they do hold some Blu-Ray distribution rights but are currently adopting a "wait and see" approach due to the high production costs which would require a print run of at least 3,000 copies.
MVM admitted that Manga Entertainment and Beez tend to grab most of the newest titles, leaving him to look towards older series which can sell very well and with reasonable licensing costs, with FLCL being a prime example. Andrew from Beez Entertainment noted that he now also has the remit to look towards releasing older titles, with Irresponsible Captain Tylor noted as one possibility he'd be interested in. He also pointed out that there can be drawbacks to some of these licenses, such as the difficulty of getting hold of PAL masters and the like.
As part of the question and answer portion of the industry panel, the effect of FUNimation's dominance in the North American marketing space was put to both Beez and MVM, with the former comparing FUNimation as an American version of Madman Entertainment while the latter noted the frustrations of UK rights being snapped up by FUNimation with no opportunity to sub-license the series, leaving those UK rights to sit and stagnate. This has also happened with licenses which have expired such as Chobits, where the UK rights were subsequently "bolted on" to FUNimation's US license, while a French company are still sitting on the rights for DragonBall Z in the UK.
Other topics up for discussion included streaming and digital download anime (including High Definition releases via iTunes), the prospect of bringing Japanese style anime releases and pricing to the country (which met with a resounding "no" from those present, unsurprisingly), and thoughts on whether Japanese companies directly entering the foreign anime market themselves could be successful in the future.
Stay tuned as we reveal Beez's new license announcements at their own panel a little later this afternoon!