Under such circumstances, lawyer M called me on the phone. He said he wanted to see me to explain something he wanted. On July 23, 1991 lawyer M came to our offices. Although I hadn't been told what he wanted to talk about, I was sure it was not a trifling matter because he bothered to visit me in this stage. First, lawyer M told me that from information he obtained from MGM, he could show that MGM is Alciona's successor and showed me a chart indicating how MGM succeeded the remaking right of "The Seven Samurai". I was not very surprised to see it thinking that he should have sent me a fax instead of coming. After finishing his talk, he slowly took out a piece of B4 sized document and showed it to me. It was a copy of an agreement. When I read it I could not hide my surprise. The contents of the agreement were as follows:
We hereby accept your offer to transfer the right to make film from the script of "The Seven Samurai" written by us, three writers, from your company to Alciona Productions, Inc., a California corporation.
2088 Izumi, Komaecho, Kita-tama Gun, Tokyo
Akira Kurosawa (seal)
1640 Hanegicho, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Shinobu Hashimoto (seal)
4-3, Magomecho Nishi, Ota-ku, Tokyo
Hideo Oguni (seal)
To: Masa Shimizu
Toho Kabushiki Kaisha
It was indeed a document ratifying Alciona Agreement. This is the document which endorses the acceptance that Kurosawa's attorney referred to in the 1978 Tokyo District Court judgement mentioned above. Lawyer M simply stated "This was found by Toho, but Alciona agreement is not attached. I don't think it is sufficient to prove that there was ratification" and did not add any more comments. I was stunned and I had no idea what Lawyer M's intention was to bring that document at this time. If such document is presented to MGM, there would be less possibility that Toho would being asked for its responsibility of transfer without permission, but on the other hand, Kurosawa Production's negotiations with MGM saying that it has the right of remake would be mostly deemed as fraud. I cannot tell what kind of criticism or responsibility would there be sought against us.
Immediately, I asked Kurosawa Production for information about this document, but they answered they had no record of such kind whatsoever. I further made them ask Mr. Kurosawa himself only to receive he did not have the slightest idea of that document. When I was talking with Mr. I, he told me that Mr. Shinobu Hashimoto was the moderator of this case so I called Mr. Hashimoto on the phone. Mr. Hashimoto answered that he did not have definite memory of that time, but admitted that maybe he did not approve ratification of Alciona agreement but agreed to give consent to the case of "The@Magnificent Seven". Without understanding the situations, I kept taking contacts with Lawyer Graubart in the U.S. in order to solve the problem through negotiations.
In any event, if the settlement agreement is submitted to MGM, MGM is expected to get encouraged, which would make the settlement difficult. So I made to further comment exchanges with Toho regarding the documents to be attached to the settlement agreement. Toho's U.S. attorney was taking a strong stand against us and remained an attitude that they would not agree to a draft which we had been thinking of.
In the U.S., Lawyer Graubart was negotiating with MGM. Since we could feel that MGMG was under severe conditions that they absolutely wished to obtain the remake right of "The Seven Samurai", we decided to go aggressive. In any event, as long as MGM does not raise a lawsuit against Toho, there would be no problem, so we intended to make MGM promise that. What we offered to MGM was to get a promise from MGM that MGM would not sue a lawsuit against Toho as condition for Kurosawa's granting the remake right. This offer was rejected after all and the situation did not seem to proceed.