World Events Productions

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World Events Productions
Type Private
Industry Entertainment
Founded 1980
Headquarters St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Key people Ted Koplar
Peter Keefe[1]
Products Anime, cartoons
Website World Events Productions

World Events Productions is an American-based animation and distribution company in St. Louis, Missouri, best known for releasing the anime titles Voltron, Defender of the Universe and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, as well as producing the original animated series Denver, the Last Dinosaur.[2] [3]

History[edit]

Founded in 1980 by Ted Koplar, son of St. Louis businessman and KPLR-TV founder Harold Koplar, World Events Productions started out as a "current events" program on the TV station titled World Events. In 1983, while attending a science fiction convention, Ted Koplar discovered the anime series Beast King GoLion and saw a potential in distributing it on U.S. television. WEP licensed the series from Toei Animation and released it in 1984 in an edited and English-dubbed form as Voltron. The show was met with high ratings nationwide. After airing all episodes of GoLion, WEP adapted Armored Fleet Dairugger XV into the second season of Voltron. Unfortunately, the second season lacked the ratings of the first season, as viewers were more used to the GoLion team. In response, WEP commissioned Toei Animation to produce 20 more episodes of the GoLion-based Voltron.

In 1987, WEP licensed Star Musketeer Bismark from Studio Pierrot and released it as Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The series was rewritten with several episodes rearranged or omitted; in addition, six new episodes were animated for the U.S. version. Despite lacking the popularity of Voltron, Saber Rider has received a cult fan following throughout the years; most prominently in Germany.[4]

After years of licensing and broadcasting anime, WEP ventured to original animated works. In 1988, the company released Denver, the Last Dinosaur, which was met with positive feedback from parents' groups and was recommended by the National Education Association. Vytor: The Starfire Champion was released in 1989. Despite being an International Film and Video Festival and a New York Festival Award winner,[5] the show's run on television was short-lived.

In 1998, WEP revisited the Voltron franchise with an all-new TV series. Voltron: The Third Dimension was the 3-D animated sequel to the original series, featuring some of the original voice cast plus actors Clancy Brown and Tim Curry. Despite winning a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing, the series received mixed responses from critics and fans of the original series.

In 2008, World Events licensed the original GoLion and Dairugger XV in the U.S.

In 2010, WEP licensed rights for the Voltron franchise to Classic Media (now DreamWorks Classics).

WEP, Kickstart Productions and Classic Media released an all-new animated Voltron series titled Voltron Force in June 2011. The series takes place sometime after events in the original series and currently airs on the Nicktoons network.

Legal issues[edit]

World Events Productions settled a legal dispute with Toei Animation in 2010 over copyright infringements of a potential live-action Voltron movie. In the past, both companies disputed when Voltron: The Third Dimension was released. The previous dispute was settled in 2000, with WEP acquiring the animated properties Voltron and GoLion, as well as 'Vehicle Force Voltron' and 'Dairugger'. The most recent legal issues between the two companies focus on WEP's right to adapt the anime into live-action and possibly marketing it in Japan. As a result of this dispute, 20th Century Fox and New Regency Productions pulled out of the live-action project.[6][7]

On July 2009, Atlas Entertainment acquired the live-action film rights.[8] This prompted film producers James Young, Ford Oelman and Mark Costa to file a lawsuit against World Events Productions, claiming that their companies - Animus Films and NHO Entertainment - have held exclusive live-action rights to Voltron since 2004.[9] The live-action project was eventually scrapped on June 2010 in favor of a new Voltron television series.[10]

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