Japan’s Tsuburaya has hired Jeff Gomez’s Starlight Runner Entertainment to do a new take on the futuristic policeman-turned-extraterrestrial savior for the international market.
Ultraman, created in 1966 by Eiji Tsuburaya, is one of the oddest superhero success stories around. With more than two dozen made-for-television movies since the character was created in 1966, the heroic human in an alien tech suit has been battling to save the Earth from invading aliens and giant monsters. He falls squarely in the kaiju movie genre; many of his battles involve growing to 164 feet in height and battling skyscaper-sized baddies.
Somehow, though, the Earth just keeps needing to be saved, and enthusiasts of Japanese kaiju movies just keep eating them up. Recent films include Ultraman X the Movie in 2016, Ultraman Orb the Movie last year and Ultraman Geed the Movie in 2018, the 29th installment of the franchise.
In Japan, the Ultraman generates about $50 million per year in toys and merchandise. He’s their Superman analog.
Now U.S. transmedia producer Starlight Runner Entertainment has been tapped by Tokyo-based Tsuburaya Productions to build out the Ultraman mythology for the digital age outside of Japan, to include a possible live action streaming TV series. They’re trying to restore Ultraman’s profile outside Japan, so they’re rebooting the property across multiple platforms, with story-driven licensing and merchandising programs for the U.S. and other international markets. Destination media will include cable, streaming and video on demand services.
“Ultraman is one of my greatest childhood heroes. We’re honored to be embarking on this mission to bring this family of characters back to the world stage,” Starlight Runner CEO Jeff Gomez said in a statement.
Starlight Runner is no stranger to transmedia reboots. They’ve already worked on digital spinoffs for movie and TV brands like Men in Black, Avatar, Halo, Pirates of the Caribbean and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.