Sony Completes Acquisition of Crunchyroll

Sony Pictures Entertainment has completed its acquisition of AT&T’s Crunchyroll anime business through Funimation Global Group.

Funimation is a joint venture between SPE and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan)’s subsidiary Aniplex.

The agreement was first announced in December 2020.

Crunchyroll has a direct-to-consumer anime service with 5 million SVOD subscribers. It serves 120 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories, offering AVOD, mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution.

The deal provides the opportunity for Crunchyroll and Funimation to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers, according to the joint announcement from SPE and AT&T.

“We are very excited to welcome Crunchyroll to the Sony Group,” Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony Group Corp., said in a statement. “Anime is a rapidly growing medium that enthralls and inspires emotion among audiences around the globe. The alignment of Crunchyroll and Funimation will enable us to get even closer to the creators and fans who are the heart of the anime community. We look forward to delivering even more outstanding entertainment that fills the world with emotion through anime.”

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“Crunchyroll adds tremendous value to Sony’s existing anime businesses, including Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan,” said Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “With Crunchyroll and Funimation, we are committed to creating the ultimate anime experience for fans and presenting a unique opportunity for our key partners, publishers, and the immensely talented creators to continue to deliver their masterful content to audiences around the world. With the addition of Crunchyroll, we have an unprecedented opportunity to serve anime fans like never before and deliver the anime experience across any platform they choose, from theatrical, events, home entertainment, games, streaming, linear TV — everywhere and every way fans want to experience their anime. Our goal is to create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.”

The purchase price for the transaction is $1.175 billion, subject to customary working capital and other adjustments, and the proceeds were paid in cash at closing, according to the announcement. AT&T expects to use the proceeds from this transaction to help support its debt reduction efforts.

Vizio Adds Funimation Anime App to SmartCast TVs

Vizio July 7 announced that the Funimation app will soon be available on its connected SmartCast platform. The app features access to more than 13,000 hours of anime episodes, movies, extras and top trending shows from Japan, including My Hero AcademiaDemon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Fruits Basket, Black Clover and Attack on Titan, all on-demand, either subtitled and/or dubbed.

The $5.99/$7.99 (premium) monthly streaming service also includes fan-favorites and anime classics like Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and One Piece. Funimation just released its summer slate with more than 20 new and returning series as well as the global hit, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which arrived on the service last month after being in theaters this spring.

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“Our partnership with Vizio now completes Funimation’s availability on all major distribution platforms and truly lets us be where every fan is,” Kaliel Roberts, chief product officer at Funimation Global Group, said in a statement. “Whether or not it’s text-to-speech navigation, search capabilities or curated recommendations, the custom-built Funimation user experience for anime fans on Vizio will be amazing.”

By pairing a Vizio SmartCast TV with one of Irvine, Calif.-based company’s sound bars, Funimation streamers will not only see every HD detail, but can experience a fully immersive sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X floor-to-ceiling sound.

In addition to the Funimation streaming app, Vizio provides direct access to on-screen apps from Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video and YouTube TV. It also includes support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in, allowing viewers to stream, control, and share content from their phone, tablet, or laptop directly onto the big screen.

‘Demon Slayer,’ ‘Nobody’ Top Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train took over the top spot of the Vudu chart the week ended June 27, while the Bob Odenkirk actioner Nobody grabbed No. 1 on the FandangoNow chart.

Both Vudu and FandangoNow are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

Funimation’s Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which became available for digital purchase June 22, is set after the events of the “Demon Slayer” television series and sees Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke embark on a new mission. Together with one of the most powerful swordsmen of the Demon Slayer Corps, Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku, they investigate the mysterious disappearance of over 40 people aboard the Mugen Train. The film earned $455 million at the global box office. It was No. 5 on the FandangoNow chart.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Nobody, which was No. 2 on the Vudu chart, stars Bob Odenkirk as a family man repressing a dangerous past that resurfaces after he interrupts burglars robbing his home. When he learns his daughter’s kitty bracelet is missing, he snaps and sets off on a mission of revenge looking to vent his deep-seated rage. Read a review here.

Disney’s Cruella, which became available for digital purchase June 25, was No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart and No. 3 on the Vudu chart. The prequel tells the story of the rise of the 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella de Vil.

The previous week’s top Vudu title, Warner’s Godzilla vs. Kong, dropped to No. 4 on that chart and No. 6 on the FandangoNow chart. The film from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, stars Alexander Skarsgård and Millie Bobby Brown. In this installment in the Monsterverse, Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe.

The No. 3 FandangoNow title and No. 5 on the Vudu chart was DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit Untamed, from Universal Pictures. The next chapter in the “Spirit” franchise begins as a young girl finds a connection to her mother’s legacy as a trick rider and forms a bond with a wild Mustang named Spirit. The film was released in theaters June 4 and is now available via on demand digital rental.

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Warner’s Wrath of Man, the previous week’s top FandangoNow title, dropped to No. 4 on that chart and No. 7 on the Vudu chart. Based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck and available as a premium VOD rental, the actioner pairs director Guy Ritchie with Jason Statham as a mysterious new security guard for a cash truck who surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist, and the crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from.

Also new to the Vudu chart, at No. 6, was Warner’s Batman: The Long Halloween — Part One, an animated adaptation of a popular 1990s comic book storyline in which Batman battles mob violence in Gotham City.

The FandangoNow chart at No. 8 saw the debut of Vertical Entertainment’s Lansky, starring Harvey Keitel as aging mobster Meyer Lansky, who recounts his life during one last Federal investigation.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended June 27, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train
  2. Nobody
  3. Cruella
  4. Godzilla vs. Kong
  5. Spirit Untamed
  6. Batman: The Long Halloween — Part One
  7. Wrath of Man
  8. Mortal Kombat
  9. The Unholy
  10. Spiral: From the Book of Saw

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended June 27, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Nobody
  2. Cruella
  3. Spirit Untamed
  4. Wrath of Man
  5. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train
  6. Godzilla vs. Kong
  7. Spiral: From the Book of Saw
  8. Lansky
  9. The Misfits
  10. Mortal Kombat

Funimation Releasing Classic Anime Series ‘Robotech’ on Streaming Channel, Blu-ray

Funimation is bringing the “Robotech” franchise to its service this fall via streaming, Blu-ray and licensed products.

The space opera anime epic about humans defending their homeworld against alien domination, produced by Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko Productions, introduced an entire generation of viewers to anime when it first premiered in 1985.

Funimation will be premiering 85 episodes of the series — told over three sagas — on its streaming service worldwide (except Japan) and will debut a collector’s edition box set on Blu-ray in Dolby Digital on Sept. 28 and through a series of licensed product partnerships.

The “Robotech” home entertainment collector’s edition, available exclusively at Funimation Shop, is remastered for the first time on Blu-ray. The remastering will be faithful to the preceding DVD box set release and retain a classic “film grain.” The set also includes retro packaging design, an exclusive Variant Transforming Robotech — Roy Fokker’s VF-1S;  an exclusive Variant Action Figure — Roy Fokker in Pilot Uniform Variant Shade of Black; and a series of Robotech-embroidered patches.

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Funimation now has rights to “Robotech” merchandise and will begin to roll out the products this summer, including the new game on Switch (Robotech Macross Saga HD) and WAX’s “Robotech” Series 1 NFTs released on the digital blockchain.

“Robotech is a beloved series and an integral part of anime history,” Mitchel Berger, Funimation Global Group’s SVP of commerce, said in a statement. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage the original passionate fans from decades ago and also expose a whole new generation to this classic series.”

Headquartered in the United States and connected by a global network, Funimation serves fandom in more than 49 countries and 10 languages.

Funimation is an independently-operated joint venture between U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Japan’s Aniplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), both subsidiaries of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corp.

Global Anime Box Office Hit ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ Streaming on Funimation in the U.S. on June 22

After breaking global theatrical box office records, anime hit Demon Slayer: Mugen Train will stream exclusively on Funimation in the United States and Canada, starting June 22, and in Australia and New Zealand starting June 23. The film will be dubbed in English and subtitled.

Funimation is an independently operated joint-venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Japan’s Aniplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), both subsidiaries of Sony Corp.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train generated $475 million at the worldwide, becoming the No. 1 theatrical release worldwide in 2020 — the first non-Hollywood, non-U.S. film to achieve this. The film opened in the U.S. and Canada on April 23, topping the box office the second week of release, earning more than $48 million to date.

“[The film] has been a runaway success since it opened last year, galvanizing fans and attracting a whole new generation to anime,” Asa Suehira, chief content officer at Funimation Global Group, said in a statement.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is directed by Haruo Sotozaki featuring the original story by Koyoharu Gotoge with screenplay and animation production by studio ufotable. The running time for the ‘R’-film is one hour and 57 minutes. Set after the events of the television series, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train has Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Inosuke embark on a new mission. Together with one of the most powerful swordsmen of the Demon Slayer Corps, Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku, they investigate the mysterious disappearance of over 40 people aboard the Mugen Train.

The “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” anime series, streaming on Funimation, both subtitled and dubbed in English, Spanish and Portuguese, premiered in 2019 and is based on Koyoharu Gotoge’s manga, which claims more than 150 million copies in circulation in Japan.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is an action-packed, thrilling tale of a young man in search of a cure for his sister, who has been turned into a demon after their family is viciously slaughtered by demons. Fans can catch up on the entire series with the three-part TV specials, “Sibling’s Bond”, “Mt. Natagumo Arc” and “The Hashira Meeting Arc” on Funimation.

Merchandise for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is available at Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba official website and Funimation Shop.

 

Funimation’s ‘Demon Slayer’ Tops ‘Mortal Kombat’ in Domestic Weekend Box Office

Anime appears to be topping video games at the domestic weekend box office through May 2. Funimation’s Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is projected to best Warner Bros. Pictures’ Mortal Kombat with an estimated $6.4 million in ticket sales to $6.2 million, respectively. The results, if they hold, reverse the previous week’s tally that saw Kombat edge Slayer by about $2.1 million. Both titles saw their box office plummet more than 70% from their debuts.

Mortal Kombat

Demon Slayer, which reportedly ranks as the third-highest anime theatrical release in the U.S. (behind Pokemon: The First Movie and Pokemon: The Movie 2000) remains Japan’s all-time box office champ with more than $394 million. The title has tracked about $435 million in ticket sales globally.

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Kombat has generated $34 million across about 3,000 domestic screens, topping $63 million worldwide. The movie is streaming concurrently on HBO Max as part of WarnerMedia’s 2021 strategy to release the studio’s entire theatrical slate on SVOD.

Rounding out the podium is Warner’s international monster epic, Godzilla vs. Kong, which tracked about $2.7 million in ticket sales, $90 million worldwide. The movie is also streaming on Max.

Among the top five theatrical releases, new horror flick Separation tallied about $1.7 million in revenue across 1,700 screens. The Open Road release topped Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon and Universal Pictures’ Nobody with more than $1.2 million each. Both movies are available on digital retail platforms, yet have generated $23.3 million and $41.4 million at the box office, respectively.

 

Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Holds Off All-Time Japanese Box Office Champ ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’

Warner Bros.’ video game adaptation Mortal Kombat led the domestic weekend box office through April 25.

The film earned a reported $22.5 million in estimated revenue across more than 3,000 North American screens operating at 50% capacity due to the pandemic.

The movie had tougher-than-expected competition from Funimation’s anime actioner Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which is projected to tally $19.5 million across almost 1,600 screens.

Mugen Train’s result shouldn’t be surprising since the movie is Japan’s all-time box office champ, with more than $365 million. The title has topped $400 million in ticket sales worldwide.

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Kombat continues to support Warner’s decision to simultaneously release new theatrical titles on subscription streaming video platform HBO Max for 31 days. The studio is set to return to a shortened theatrical window in 2022. Kombat generated another $6.3 million across 37 countries, bringing its global haul to $50 million.

The latest Warner movie to top the box office follows previous chart-topper Godzilla vs. Kong, which generated $4.2 million in revenue across more than from 2,800 screens in the latest weekend. The monster movie movie, which has also been available on Max, has topped $86.5 million in the U.S. since its release four weeks ago, and $400 million worldwide — surpassing Warner’s Tenet and its $363 million as the highest-grossing domestic release during the pandemic.

Rounding out the Top 5: Universal Pictures’ vigilante justice drama Nobody, starring aptly cast Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), which tracked $1.8 million in ticket sales ($38 million globally) despite being available on PVOD for $20 due to a rev-sharing deal with AMC Theatres and Cinemark.

Finally, Disney’s Raya and Last Dragon generated $1.6 million ($39.8 million) despite being available for $29.99 purchase on the Disney+ streaming service.

AT&T Sells Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation

AT&T has agreed to sell its Crunchyroll anime streaming service to Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion.

Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment’s (Japan) subsidiary, Aniplex Inc.

Crunchyroll is an anime direct-to-consumer service within AT&T’s WarnerMedia segment with more than 3 million SVOD subscribers. It serves 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories offering AVOD, mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution.

The combination of Crunchyroll and Funimation provides the opportunity to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers, according to the AT&T-Sony joint release.

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“The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans,” Tony Goncalves, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia, said in a statement. “By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people. I’m incredibly proud of the Crunchyroll team and what they have been able to accomplish in the digital media space in such a short period of time. They’ve created an end-to-end global ecosystem for this incredible art form.”

“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement. “Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world. Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere. Funimation has been doing this for over 25 years and we look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment.”

“We are excited to embark on this new journey. Crunchyroll has built a world-class brand with a passionate fan-base of over 3 million subscribers, 50 million social followers and 90 million registered users. These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon,” Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll, said in a statement. “Combining the strength of the Crunchyroll brand and the expertise of our global team with Funimation is an exciting prospect and a win for the incredible art form of anime.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

‘1917’ Tops Disc Sales; ‘My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising’ Repeats as No. 1 Blu-ray

The relative lack of new impactful DVD and Blu-ray releases combined with stores transitioning into the holiday shopping season yielded a catalog free-for-all on the national disc sales charts the week ended Nov. 7.

The first week after Halloween saw most of the spooky favorites that dominated the charts the previous two months fade away, while a selection of Christmas favorites are beginning to surge again due to clearance promotions and not much in the way of new competition to keep catalog fare in general from taking over.

The week’s top title on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, was Universal Pictures’ 1917, the Award-winning World War I drama first released on disc in March. It had been No. 24 a week earlier. It marks the film’s second time in the top spot, which it previously occupied upon its debut 32 weeks ago just as the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns were beginning.

On the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart, however, 1917 was No. 3, rising eight spots from the previous week. The top Blu-ray for a second-consecutive week was Funimation’s anime movie My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, which was No. 3 on the overall disc chart. The film is one of the few recent releases on the chart, and its ability to rise above the fray on the Blu-ray battlefield is likely due to the fact that it was released only as a Blu-ray combo pack (with a DVD and digital copy).

Also making a huge jump during the week was Warner’s Joker, to No. 2 on both charts. The previous week it was No. 58 overall.

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The week’s top new release, at No. 4 overall and No. 8 on the Blu-ray Disc chart, was Liongate’s Antebellum, the horror film about a modern-day black woman who finds herself transported back in time to pre-Civil War slavery days where she must confront the racist attitudes of the time. Just 47% of its overall sales came from the Blu-ray Disc format, but 12% of its total was from the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version (translating to more than 25% of its Blu-ray sales).

Rounding out the top five overall disc sellers was Warner’s Birds of Prey, which jumped up from No. 95 a week earlier. It was No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.

Lionsgate’s Knives Out was the No. 5 Blu-ray seller, No. 9 on the overall disc chart.

Among the Christmas favorites to return to the fold were Warner’s A Charlie Brown Christmas at No. 11 overall, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls Holiday at No. 15, Universal’s 2018 animated movie The Grinch at No. 18 (up from 169 the week before), Warner’s Elf at No. 24, and Warner’s The Polar Express at No. 30.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Nov. 8, Antebellum debuted at No. 1, followed by Redbox’s An Imperfect Murder at No. 2.

The previous week’s top rental, Lionsgate’s Friendsgiving, dropped to No. 3, while not cracking the top 50 sales charts in either of its two weeks on shelves.

Rounding out the top five were Paramount’s The Vanished and Redbox’s Ava.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 11-7-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 11-8-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 11-7-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 11-7-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 11-7-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 11-9-20

‘Hocus Pocus’ Tops Disc Sales Again While Anime Movie Claims No. 1 Blu-ray Spot

Disney’s Hocus Pocus topped the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, the week ended Oct. 31, its fourth time in the top spot in the five weeks leading up to Halloween. It maintained the No. 3 spot on the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

The 1993 film, about three sisters tried as witches in Salem and resurrected in modern times, as always been a top seller during the spooky season, but has been particularly dominate relative to other discs due to the lightened load of new releases during the coronavirus pandemic, which has allowed catalog titles to dominate the disc charts in general.

Other discs getting a boost from the lead-up to Halloween include Disney’s The Nightmare Before Christmas at No. 3 (No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart), Warner’s Beetlejuice at No. 4 (No. 8 Blu-ray), Warner’s It: Chapter One at No. 5, Universal’s Tremors: Shrieker Island at No. 6 (No. 5 Blu-ray chart), Warner’s The Meg at No. 8, the 1978 original Halloween from Lionsgate at No. 9, Universal’s 2018 remake of Halloween at No. 10 (No. 16 Blu-ray), Paramount’s A Quiet Place at No. 12 (No. 18 Blu-ray), Disney’s Halloweentown I & II double feature at No. 13, Lionsgate’s eight-film “Saw” collection at No. 19 (No. 10 Blu-ray), and Paramount’s Addams Family/Addams Family Values double feature at No. 20 (No. 25 Blu-ray).

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The top new release was Funimation’s My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, which was the No. 2 overall seller and No. 1 on the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart. Based on the “My Hero Academia” manga franchise, the film earned more than $13 million during a limited box office run in U.S. theaters in December 2019, but didn’t make its way to home video until October, when it became available via digital sellthrough and as a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack.

The only other new release in the top 20, at No. 16, was Universal’s Fatima, a DVD-only historical drama about a trio of girls who witness a vision of the Virgin Mary in Portugal during World War I.

The previous week’s top-selling Blu-ray, Universal’s Back to the Future Trilogy re-release, slipped to No. 2 (No. 7 on the overall disc sales chart). Warner’s Batman: Death in the Family slipped two spots to No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart (and was down from No. 9 to No. 37 on the overall disc chart).

The Blu-ray Disc chart also saw a few catalog re-releases pop into the top 30. The Criterion Collection’s deluxe edition Blu-ray of 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite was No. 9, while Arrow Video’s remastered edition of 1984’s The Last Starfighter debuted at No. 23. And Lionsgate’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook boxed set of the five “Rambo” films, a Best Buy exclusive, was No. 29.

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The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Nov. 1 had Lionsgate’s Friendsgiving debut at No. 1. The comedy stars Malin Akerman and Kat Dennings as a pair of thirtysomethings who decide to skip Thanksgiving with their families and host their own for their friends.

The previous week’s top disc rental, Paramount’s The Vanished, slipped to No. 2, followed by Well Go USA’s heist film Cut Throat City at No. 3.

Rounding out the top five rentals were Lionsgate’s The Doorman at No. 4 (down two spots) and RLJE Films’ The Tax Collector holding steady at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 10-31-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 11-1-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 10-31-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 10-31-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 10-31-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 11-2-20