April 12, 2009

Dragonball Evolution -- flop

With a production cost of $45 million, it took in less than $5 million at the box office in the US this weekend. Total take worldwide so far is about $25 million.

Which probably means there won't be many more live-action remakes of anime properties. Imagine my sadness. (Or lack thereof.)

They're different media. Stories that work well in animation won't necessarily work well in live action. But even if they did, that's beside the point. Why make it live action if it works in animation? Why not just do more animation?

Time was when live action was cheaper per minute than animation, but these days it hardly seems so. Budgets tend to be under half a million dollars per half hour show (and often well under that). DBE, with a run length of 84 minutes, cost more than half a million dollars per minute. It had twice the budget Miyazaki had to spend on Princess Mononoke, which sure as hell is a better movie in every way.

Including profitability. They're going to be really lucky to break even with DBE, and it may take years, if it ever happens. Princess Mononoke was very profitable. It had a production budget of ¥2.4 billion, and did ¥18.65 billion at the Japanese box office.

So that's the end, right? For live-action DB films? You'd think so, wouldn't you? But there's already a script for a sequel. Here's hoping that was just a small speculative investment in hopes the movie was a smash hit, and now that it hasn't been they'll eventually can the entire project.

UPDATE: It also scored just 16% on the tomatometer.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 03:17 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 276 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Keep in mind that Hollywood is out of ideas. They have to take from other cultures in order not to produce remakes exclusively. So they will turn to anime again and again no matter what.

Also, it's obvious that many adaptations were simply made poorly (e.g. Wing Commander). Any studio exec can see that a competent director could've done better.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 12, 2009 03:59 PM (/ppBw)

2 Movie profitability isn't strictly a matter of box office sales, either. They made a sequel to the reportedly execrable Fantastic Four movie because the very strong merchandising sales (or so I remember reading).

Posted by: Canthros at April 12, 2009 04:17 PM (QF0kY)


While I think that DBE will probably do moderately well in DVD sales, I can't really see the movie having much potential in the way of merchandising.

Total merchandise sales for the DB franchise is quite good, especially when you include the computer games, but I just don't believe that this movie will cause a substantial bump in merchandise sales.

Or at least not enough to justify a sequel, I hope.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 12, 2009 04:22 PM (+rSRq)


It seems to me that the DBZ movie will enjoy a second life on DVD/BR as a So Bad It's Good type movie.  Not that that fact will necessarily bring on the investors, but still.  DBZ should make its money back.

Pete brings up a good point about the talent involved, though it's also worth noting that Speed Racer was awful too.  I think we'll still see Anime properties being made into live-action Hollywood  movies, but the budgets will be lower than Speed Racer or even DBZ.

Hollywood is also getting interested in Manga as a source of new ideas.  For instance, Will Smith and Steven Spielberg announced that they were going to remake Oldboy,  but that they were going to be using the original Manga rather than the Korean movie as source material.  Spielberg also apparently wants to make a Ghost in the Shell movie, which could be awesome.

Posted by: Mark at April 12, 2009 04:25 PM (2cMUJ)

5 I'm not as sure as I used to be that Hollywood is out of ideas. Really, there's a relatively fixed (if large) set of ideas out there, and I don't think that's the problem.

(If that sounds strange, I would point out that the combination of ideas and motifs is still a fertile ground. I'm not saying every movie has been made, but at the scale most people mean by the word "idea" they've been "out" for a long time.)

The problem is they just don't respect the ideas. They don't respect the story, they don't respect the characters, they don't respect the authors. They'll throw $100 million in special effects at a story that one crappy author wrote in three weeks, as fiddled with by four drive-by executives, and expect the special effects to make up the difference. They especially don't respect the traditions of science fiction, which itself could make up a separate post, and that's particularly ironic since that's one of the well of ideas that has not been completely tapped out.

And... to a significant degree, it works for them. Frankly, commercially I can't fault them. Actually losing money on a movie is pretty rare. It may not make us happy, but we're in the minority.

This is why I watch anime, personally. It is not the case that every anime respects the characters and story either, but it is a much richer vein to mine from, and through a language barrier and a style barrier (at least initially, though you get over it and it can be thrilling too), that fact still shines through. (YMMV, of course.)

Posted by: Jeremy Bowers at April 12, 2009 04:39 PM (7LWnd)

6 Speed Racer was awesome (I rewatched it on DVD and it was even better than in puke-smelled theater).

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 12, 2009 04:42 PM (/ppBw)


Assuming Spielberg does make a GitS movie, Mamoru Oshii has actually mentioned an actress he would like playing Motoko Kusanagi (She is Polish, IIRC.), although I am not keen on Oshii really doing any more work on the property, given his directorial and story-telling style.

Even with Mandalay just announcing the live-action rights to the Full Metal Panic series...We have to see.  We know James Cameron a while ago ended all talks of doing a Battle Angel movie.  Toby McGuire's production company apparently is having trouble with the Robotech franchise (Not strictly anime, for all the purists out there, but close.).  Mandalay's track record has been hit and miss, and I will believe in a live-action Cowboy Bebop when it actually gets released (Though if it ever gets made, a CB movie will at least be faithful to the original series, even if you do have Keanu Reeves as Spike, given the involvement Sunrise has in it.).  And when talking about anime and Spielberg, at least we hope he learn something from back when Dreamworks dabbled in anime licensing.  If not, he really should not bother.

Re: Wing Commander - I think it is less Hollywood lousing up an existing franchise as proof-positive that WC creator Chris Roberts, while wanting very badly to be a movie director, only got it half-right.  He directed the movie, after all.

Posted by: cxt217 at April 12, 2009 04:51 PM (lOtwP)

8 I've got to agree with respect to Hollywood and ideas.

It's not that they're out of ideas; sure, there's only so many themes to be played on, and there's very little under the sun that's radically unique. On the other hand, there's endless variations on each of the themes, and the details are what determine whether the movie's any good or not.

The fact remains that Hollywood studios are not all that good about determining what's good and what's not. They're not unique in that. It's very hard to tell whether a movie's going to be any good from reading a script - plenty of movies with so-so scripts were made good by excellent performances and cinematography, and plenty of good scripts are ruined by actors phoning it in. By the time the outlines of the movie are there, most of the expense is already committed - even if it's bad, release it anyway, make some of that money back. Sure, it might ruin an actor's or a director's reputation (remember when people thought Ang Lee was good?), but you're a producer, and what do you care? You're not expected to have a good batting average.

(Kind of the same thing happens when a company makes a really bad video game. By the time it becomes obvious that it's a real stinker with no hope of getting fixed, you've sunk enough into it that "just throw it out" usually isn't an option. So you roll it out there and hope that someone's dumb enough to buy it...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at April 12, 2009 06:51 PM (vGfoR)

9 I remember one Hollywood script writer saying that better writing can be found in Television. Hollywood has always been about the money but they have become inbred and incestuous. They present a vision of the world like that of frogs at the bottom of a very deep well. They've lost touch with their audience as the level of the water in the well drops. They'll produce movies that flop because they insult 60% of their audience but it is never their fault. They've been coasting on their pool of capital and they don't see the competition on the horizon caused by increasing video tech break throughs.

Posted by: toadold at April 12, 2009 10:59 PM (zcbXo)

10 Though it doesn't say anything about the reviews, the box-office numbers could be at least partially a marketing mistake. Though I'm hardly glued to the TV, I hadn't seen a commercial for it until about two weeks ago (and only saw two, total, between then and its opening weekend.)

And I mentioned it to a friend of mine who is (a) a movie nut, and (b) the father of a 14-year-old boy, and he hadn't heard of it at all. He has asked me a few times (each) about going to the upcoming new/old Star Trek and new/old X-Men shows, so he's not in a movie-ignoring rut lately or anything.

His comment about it was basically "they're too late". He thought Dragonball was too old-school for the current batch of shonen-anime-watching-age American boys. Maybe they should have done live-action Naruto...

Posted by: Mikeski at April 14, 2009 02:58 PM (GbSQF)


Advertising, especially TV advertising, is another way to double-up your bet. It is really expensive, but it can increase your box office. Is it worth it? Often they decide it isn't, and don't advertise films because they think that money spent on advertising is good money thrown after bad.

I'm not surprised that they didn't advertise it; my impression is that it wouldn't have made much difference.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 14, 2009 04:40 PM (+rSRq)

12 Ryk Spoor, who is another major dragon ball fan that I follow, says that the trailers were deliberatly falsified and that he found the movie good. I know there are some intersections between my taste and his, but I can't speak for anyone else. (I think he also recommended Speed Racer, which I haven't seen either.) I kind of doubt that I am going to see it in the theater no matter how good of a review he gives. I haven't been to the theater in probably well over a year, and haven't bought or rented a DVD in at least half a year. I might buy it on DVD when I get the funds to start purchasing again, but I might have forgotten that it exists by then.


Posted by: PatBuckman at April 15, 2009 06:59 PM (h7HNv)

13 Wow, small internet. I used to read Sea Wasp's posts in rec.games.frp.* back when "www" meant "I'm stuttering" and not "I've got a place on the internet."

So if the old-school DB(Z) fan thinks the movie was good but the trailers were a lie (even including changing dialogue)... and the younger set hasn't heard of it at all... I've got no idea what their marketing folks are up to.

Posted by: Mikeski at April 16, 2009 04:41 PM (GbSQF)

14 Re: Spielbeg...  I don't know... AI was (IMHO) an excellent idea which Kubrick might have executed well, and which Spielberg thoroughly botched.  I don't see much evidence that his 'magic' works on other people's ideas.

Re: CBebop... I cannot think of any current actor that could protray Spike accurately, and I'm having a hard time with Ed as well.  Not to mention, Hollywood as a whole usually turns out complete dreck when kid characters are involved (Jurassic, Lawnmower, AI...).  It's not that they cannot do it right, they just try to deliver precocious smarter-than-dad cute kids, regardless of what the actual character really is.  Then again, Ed does fit most of that bill...

I think their best bet for real-life adaptions of Anime lies more in the direction of Ikki Tousen and it's ilk.

Posted by: dkallen99 at April 17, 2009 11:42 AM (1PFDl)

Hide Comments | Add Comment

Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
      [spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)

At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.

How to put links in your comment

Comments are disabled. Post is locked.
19kb generated in CPU 0.02, elapsed 0.0236 seconds.
20 queries taking 0.012 seconds, 31 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.