Anime fans will already be familiar with the company Funimation. The studio is one of the largest in the U.S. which licensed shows from Japan and produced subs or dubs for English-speaking audiences. For years now, Funimation has been behind the popularization of anime titles like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball. And, now, it seems like the growing anime market has piqued the interest of bigwigs like Universal and Sony Pictures.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Funimation is currently courting buy-out or partnership offers from studios like Universal and Sony Pictures. Sources close to the situation were able to confirm the talks were going on, but another insider said that Universal chose to pass on extending its current multiyear distribution contract with Funimation.
While outsiders may be confused by Hollywood’s attention, anime fans should already know why the industry is eyeing Funimation’s content. Anime is rife with unique, thought-provoking series which many studios would be interested in adapting. That is, if they can do so properly. Hollywood has not had the best luck with adapting anime properties in the past, and the lackluster take on Ghost in the Shell recently upheld that curse. Still, the western market is one which likes consistency, and the anime fandom is known for its loyalty and willingness to find titles for home-video.
In a previous interview, Funimation’s chief operating officer Mike DuBoise stressed how much the company has grown in under five years.
“Funimation has experienced annual double-digit revenue growth since 2013 for both our digital and physical collectible business despite industry trends in physical disc sales moving in the opposite direction,” he explained.
Still, it doesn’t seem likely that Funimation will buy in with another studio for the time being. The company released a statement about the unsolicited offers, and Funimation said it was busy maximizing content thoroughfares for fans.
“The Funimation management team is more immediately focused on continuing to create compelling experiences for anime fans through physical, digital/streaming and theatrical efforts with goals of continuing to expand globally and maximizing shareholder value,” the company explained.
When it comes down to it, the home-video market for anime is a profitable one whether its done physically or digitally. Hollywood is eager to become part of a lucrative venture like that, and who can blame them? After all, buying all nine seasons of Dragon Ball Z will run a fan nearly $250 while the complete Friends series goes for less than half that price. But, for now, Funimation seems content to navigate its way through home releases by themselves.
After all, the company seems to be doing well at it.