Netflix announced that it’s partnering with Tsuburaya Productions to create a new CG Ultraman movie, in the hopes of bringing the popular Japanese character to an even larger global audience. Ultraman’s never been a household name outside of Japan despite leaving a huge impression on popular culture — the original Ultraman series popularized the “giant man in a suit fights people dressed up as monsters in a model city” genre — but Netflix is hoping to change that.
The new CG Ultraman film, besides leaving the franchise’s original live action format, will feature a different version of the character and what sounds like a slightly unusual setup for the plot — Ultraman has undergone “dadification”. Per Tsuburaya Productions’ synopsis:
Baseball superstar Ken Sato returns to his home country of Japan to pick up the mantle of Earth-defending superhero Ultraman, but quickly finds more than he bargained for when he’s forced to raise the offspring of his greatest foe, a newborn Kaiju. Struggling to balance the roles of teammate and new father, Ken must confront his own ego, his estranged father, and the conniving Kaiju Defense Force to rise up and discover what it truly means to be Ultraman.
The film will be directed by Shannon Tindle, and co-directed by John Aoshima, who previously worked on Disney’s Gravity Falls. Tindle’s background in animation is diverse, having worked in traditional 2D animation as a character designer on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and stop-motion animation as the creator of Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings and a character designer/animator on Coraline. Tindle is also currently the showrunner on the Netflix animated series Lost Ollie.
Tsuburuaya Productions CEO Takayuki Tsukagoshi describes the new film project as “the first full-scale endeavor to reach the global market for Tsuburaya Productions,” and with Netflix’s over 200 million subscribers, there’s a good chance somebody is going to learn they’re a huge Ultraman fan after watching this film.
That’s great for Netflix, because it already has an Ultraman anime series it can point people at, with a second season in the works. Which is all part of the streaming service’s larger push into the anime space, right as the competition is really heating up. Dropping a new Ultraman movie could be great for the character, but ultimately it’s even better for Netflix’s ongoing goal to be your only source of entertainment.