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Anime Supplier Geneon Halts DVD Production

8 Oct, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

Fans of Akira, Paranoia Agent, Appleseed, Samurai Champloo and a host of other popular anime licensed by Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc. better buy their Geneon discs quickly: The anime giant is done with DVD.

At least for now.

In a letter to retailers, Geneon Entertainment President and CEO Eiji Orii blamed the end of Geneon DVD on the failed ADV Films proposal that would have had ADV handling all of Geneon's sales and distribution.

“Due to the termination of the proposed alliance, Geneon USA is ceasing the sales of DVDs and all related distribution and marketing operations as of 5 p.m. on Friday, September 28, 2007,” Orii wrote.

The day before, Geneon's Japanese parent company, Dentsu Inc., announced a loss of about $44 million due to Geneon's downsizing. Most of Geneon's sales and marketing employees had been laid off in anticipation of the ADV deal, according to the Web site Anime News Network.

Orii did leave a sliver of hope to outraged fans who called and e-mailed the company, asking about the status of series that have not seen a complete DVD release. Geneon will only accept retailer orders for titles streeting on or before Nov. 6, leaving series such as “When They Cry,” “Hellsing Ultimate” and “Law of Ueki” in limbo. Orii told members of the now-disbanded Geneon Spot fan club in a letter that the company was sensitive to their concerns.

“At this time, we are internally discussing plans to explore all available options to continue distribution of Geneon titles, both old and new, at a later date,” he wrote. “However, nothing is certain at this time. We will release more information to the public once we have any concrete plans, if any.”

Through Oct. 5, Geneon had released 719 unique DVDs, according to the DVD Release Report, making it the second-largest anime distributor in the United States, behind ADV Films with 902.

Distributing anime since 1993, first as Pioneer Entertainment (USA), Geneon was acquired from Pioneer by Dentsu in 2003 and renamed. It quickly established itself as one of the top anime distributors in the United States, releasing 150 new titles on DVD in 2005, and 111 more in 2006.

The company still has online distribution deals with a number of Internet video service providers, and was also distributing anime CD soundtracks. It's unknown how those areas of the company's business will be affected.

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