Los Angeles Premiere of English-dubbed Ultraman X & Ginga S Movies
William Winckler Productions debuted a special premiere double screening of their official English-dubbed feature, Ultraman X: the Movie and Ultraman Ginga S: the Movie at the 40th Annual Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.
In August 2015, William Winckler Productions announced that it will officially dub three Ultra series films, Ultra Fight Victory, Ultraman X: the Movie, and Ultraman Ginga S: The Movie in English. Three months later, the production company further announced that the latter two films will go on be presented as a special double-feature screening at select theaters in the United States and Canada.
This would be the first time an Ultra series movie would be screened officially as a feature film in the United States.
One of these special screenings included the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention held during the first weekend of January 2017. William Winckler himself as well as the English voice cast and crew members, Bradford Hill and Paul Stanko (Ultraman Cosmos) were in attendance to debut the double feature to convention attendees to positive reactions.
When asked about why the Ginga S movie followed the Ultraman X movie in the double feature billing, though Ginga S premiered before Ultraman X, Winckler speculated that because Ultraman X was the 50th anniversary series, it may have received the preferential treatment. Additionally, the original Ultraman makes a cameo appearance in Ultraman X which caused “a big round of applause” from the children in the audience. Winckler continues, “We had a lot of kids here yesterday, the kids went crazy. [They] loved it. A little 7-year-old boy was just going nuts, and [the movies are] for them, too. That’s the Ultraman he fell in love with.”
Winckler has been an Ultraman fan himself since he was a child, growing up in Southern California in the 1970s. He counts himself lucky that he was able to watch the original English-dubbed series and able to find the toys from local stores in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo district.
When I was in elementary school in 4th or 5th grade, I would come home from school, have my milk and cookies and when I’d be done I’d watch Speed Racer followed by Ultraman […] but we didn’t care, we loved it and all the little boys, all my friends and I, loved watching Ultraman. I’ve always loved Japanese anime and science fiction. This was in the 70s, and I got involved in the 80s when I got into the business professionally and I come from a show business background and such. I was the youngest producer in anime in 1984.
Winckler’s attention to detail and pride in the quality of his production company’s work is clear. When asked about the process of finding voice actors for the Ginga S and X movies, he notes:
The whole concept of my dubbing is, I’m trying to create an illusion that these are Asian-American actors living and acting in Hollywood speaking their normal native tongue of American English. I know the Japanese language to a degree, so when I write my English dubbing scripts, [I use] all the pauses and all of the tricks of the trade I learned over 30 years. [Using] the vowels and consonants … in very single lip movement is like putting together a 17,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. It’s tremendous work.
Once that’s done, I try to find the actor with the same tonality, the same voice, the register, and the quality of the Japanese performer. I try to get that exact tone.
When you listen to the Japanese actor who plays Musashi, of [Ultraman] Cosmos, it’s [Paul Stanko’s] voice. I went through many, many different [actors]. It’s like putting a key into a lock, and which key will unlock which lock, and [Paul] was the key that not only unlocked the lock, but the whole front door came off! So, he worked perfectly and I tried to do that with every single person we cast.
And I think that’s it. There’s nothing better than a great English dub, a Hollywood English dub because when the actors are performing, you can enjoy the cinematography. The cinematographers, the lighting guys, the director, they try to set up these gorgeous shots and multiple edits; and they want the audience to see the cinematography, to sit back and look at the big picture, to look at everything.
If you’re reading the bottom part of the screen, your brain is not covering the whole picture. you’re not seeing the whole thing. So that’s why when you see a really great English dub, where you start falling for the trick or the illusion that it’s real, then you can enjoy the full cinematic experience. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.
Furthermore, Winckler notes Bandai’s close relationship with Tsuburaya Productions so therefore, all the official names for the special devices, attacks, and elements “had to be word perfect in the dubs.” When asked about any difficulty with dubbing, Ultraman Cosmos English-dub voice actor, Paul Stanko expressed:
Yeah, of course. It’s like Bill said, it’s like putting together a puzzle; and instead of just getting each piece to fit, you have to get each piece to fit at the perfect time.
But it’s great fun saying things like, “Cosmos Beam!” You get to do all the fun stuff. It’s a joy, but it is hard and takes a lot of effort.
Winckler also shared the challenge that came to actress, Beth Ann Sweezer, who had to express the line, “Zaigorg’s spines transformed into clones of kaiju Demaaga!” to which Stanko replied, “What a mouthful!”
Winckler went on and explains, “there’s always these types of lines that are a little bit funny. I just finished the English-dubbing scripts for some new Ultraman stuff, and we had some lines in that one which were quite remarkable too, which I know that I’m going to really have to work on those.”
In addition to the currently screening Ultraman double-feature films, William Winckler and his production company had been sent to Japan a couple of years to work with other Japanese companies to produce Hollywood English-dubbed projects for phone apps and soundtracks.
Though he is unable to reveal any further Ultraman related work, William Winckler is open to attend further conventions and will seek permission to continue screening their official English-dubbed work to audiences.
The Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention reached its 40th year this past first weekend of January 2017.