More on the Whereabouts of Optimum Productions

Since our last article over a year ago, we have occasionally spent some time poking and prodding around the internet to see whatever became of the Canadian companies involved with Sailor Moon. Now that Pretty Cure has hit the Canadian airwaves, hopefully to conquer Sailor Moon’s former glory, we thought it was about time that we reported our findings.

Optimum Productions is still around. According to an NATPE brochure from 2008, the company had a few dubbing productions in the works – the cartoon Jibber Jabber, Top Gear (we’re pretty sure that they handled editing it for time in other markets and/or international language dubbing), the hit Belgian Drama Matrioshki, and Canadian Geographic Presents. Louis Hurtubise (Producer throughout the series’ run) also has a profile on popular indie voiceover site, Voice123. Nicole Thuault (Associate Producer, Director, and Casting) was a little harder to track down, however we were able to find out something interesting from her past. She was the director of the French dub of some major Hollywood films in association with Quebec studios Voice Heart and Cinélume. These were My Life So Far with Colin Firth, Norman Jewison’s Dance Me Outside, and Pushing Tin. These are listed on Optimum Productions’ website, but OP is not given credit on the official site for dubbing in Quebec… things that make you go hmmm… We still don’t know what is going on with her Firmin Productions.

Another company which had a very big role in the distribution of the first two seasons of Sailor Moon in Canada was Kaleidoscope Entertainment. This company is also still around – we were able to find an old news release about their involvement in the production of Bathroom Divas on Bravo.

Where is Optimum Productions?

And Does Funimation Want In?

We’ve known about this for a few weeks now. Firmin Productions might be the new home of Nicole Thuault, responsible for the production of the English version of Sailor Moon. What’s really surprising is that while none of us has ever seen Firmin credited on any Sailor Moon, they are indeed taking credit for it as a company. Sailor Moon is also listed under Optimum Productions’ credits. Optimum Productions’ website is still up and operational, however our attempts to email them to clear up this matter were futile as we never heard back from them to see if Nicole was still with the company or not. Nicole Thuault is still listed as being VP Production at Optimum. It also appears (very bizarrely) that Firmin is in the building next door to Optimum in Mississauga, Ontario when comparing their addresses. Neither website looks like they have been updated in ages, and a search for either of these companies on industry websites came up dry. It’s also a little bit shady that Firmin lists a cell phone number rather than a business line. We also couldn’t find anything about Firmin’s Les Exploits de Thu Thu/The Adventures of Thu Thu. If any of our readers know what has happened to Optimum Productions or Firmin Productions, do not hesitate to contact us!

Some of you may be wondering why we are bringing this to your attention. Last week, ANN posted a link to Navarre’s Fiscal Year Second-Quarter Results Conference Call. Fans may recall that Funimation is one of Navarre’s companies. We will now quote Navarre CEO Kerry Deacon.

“On September 21st, one of Funimation’s competitors Geneon announced it was closing it’s retail sales operations and advised all retail partners that it had until November 30th to return all goods. It is too early to tell what impact this decision will have on Funimation, but generally we believe it could be positive to our position in the market place, both from a sales and a content acquisition basis. Geneon represented some very strong content such as Sailor Moon, Van Hellsing, and Black Lagoon, whose future quite frankly is unknown at this point as to what next steps may be around those – surrounding that IP.”

So, Funimation is interested – but they are only the latest addition to such a growing lineup for the rights to Sailor Moon. We all know there has been a lot of industry talk lately , especially with rumors of Toei wanting to bring their popular AnimeBB service to North America, and Tokyopop still maintaining an interest in the manga. Now that Funimation has come out and said that they are interested in acquiring former Geneon titles like Sailor moon, it seems that there is a pot being stirred in North America. But the missing ingredient is Sailor Moon and it’s all dependent on whether or not Naoko Takeuchi wants to let the property come back to the world. We found it sort of odd that while Sailor Moon hasn’t been a part of Geneon’s catalogue for a very long time, that it is still associated with that company. If Funimation would have really payed attention they might have realized that Sailor Moon isn’t licensed to anyone at the moment and it is “up for grabs” so to speak. Or better yet not mentioned it as all since Naoko has frozen the rights for the series everywhere except for Japan.

The other question we ask is that if there is a chance that Sailor Stars or any of the “lost”/missing episodes or specials would be dubbed, would it be best to have Optimum Productions back in charge of it? On the Pro side: Most of the cast would be likely to return and another production company may not honor the legacy they have created. Sailor Moon helped to put these talented voices on the map , and helped to establish Canada as a major force in cartoon dubbing. It would be sad to see them go. A modern example of this would be the Care Bears – the new CBS Saturday Morning cartoon is being handled by a different company and none of the talent from the original series and the movies are included. Save for Scott McNeil’s performance as Grumpy Bear, the new cast lacks the charming appeal of the old one.

But on the Con side, Nicole Thuault and the rest of the production team made some of the most controversial edits to the series without really explaining why (later we’ll be featuring a story on another member of the creative team who made some bizarre decisions). They went so far as to say that these edits were the result of the CRTC’s decisions, however we found the opposite as we were digging into the trenches of the internet trying to find out what had happened to Optimum Productions. For those of us who really want to know what role the CRTC played in terms of censorship of Sailor Moon S couple Haruka and Michiru/Amara and Michelle, you should give this article a read. Moreover, we have learned that Optimum Productions did in fact work their “magic” on another Asian animated production. Korea’s Hammerboy was released in 2005, with Optimum in charge of the English language dub (and Firmin also takes credit) . We’ve read mixed reviews, either viewers really enjoyed or despised the English cast, and some viewers didn’t agree with the censorship of a few scenes. None of us has seen it yet, but we would love to hear from those of you who have.

Readers, feel free to post below what you are making of all of this. We can keep reporting talk of companies interested in Sailor Moon, but we’re starting to get a little tired of everyone saying that they want it, and yet the series is still stuck in Japan.