Could Disney Help a Live-Action Dragon Ball Movie Succeed?

So we hear that there was a rumor going around that Disney was going to try its hand at creating a live action Dragon Ball series and/or movie. Now listen, the internet can be a weird place and rumors can start up, gaining traction even without a ton of evidence to back it up. However, Disney eventually attempting to do this COULD happen at some point and here's how we'd break down how the House of the Mouse could "rock the dragon" in their own way were they ever to dive into the business of creating live action anime adaptations.

How Would This Happen?

Well, as you may or may not know, Disney doesn't flat out own the franchise of Dragon Ball. Instead, it owns the "film distribution rights". This means that when a Dragon Ball movie is made and sent out to theaters, such as the recent Dragon Ball Super: Broly, then they receive a portion of profits based on distribution and whatever money is agreed upon between themselves and the true owners of Goku and the Z Fighters in Toei Animation. While we don't know all the nitty gritty to how they would be able to create their own Dragon Ball movie for distribution, we would imagine they would have to work in tandem with Toei Animation to do so.

On a somewhat related note, Sony Pictures owns the distribution rights through Funimation to the Dragon Ball television series, so if a certain company were to purchase said producers of the Playstation in a big to get Spider-Man back, then Dragon Ball Z would most likely come as part of the deal (at least as part of the television series).

How To Be Successful?

Well now having the ability to make the movie and making a GOOD Dragon Ball movie are two very different things. First, you can definitely take a look at the once attempted live action film that was Dragon Ball: Evolution and what went wrong there. Aside from a terrible script and some lukewarm computer graphics, the film just wasn't able to recapture what made Dragon Ball work as a franchise so well. It essentially attempted to "modernize" the series rather than stick to its roots.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, has done a good job of leaning into what made their characters successful in the comics. The arm of Disney hasn't been afraid to lean heavily into what some may consider to be "ridiculous" when it comes to costumes and scenarios, and such would be the case with Dragon Ball.

When all would be said and done, a Dragon Ball movie should be just that, avoiding jumping right into Dragon Ball Z and Super. Give the characters time to breathe, establish the world while focusing more on hand to hand combat to start, and then, in sequels, dive into the events that take place for the adult aged Goku and his friends as they fight alien despots and biological experiments gone wrong. The original Dragon Ball series focused on a combination of adventure and martial arts and a first film would do well in sticking to the formula it established.

Is There Anyone Better Than Disney To Do It?

As it stands, Disney is the studio to beat when it comes to creating profitable franchises. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars franchise, Pixar, their live action adaptations of classic animated movies, and everything in between rake in billions of dollars for Mickey and company. If there was one studio that could potentially pull it off successfully, it would be Disney.

Were the film to be produced outside of the United States, we would want Stephen Chow to make it without a doubt. The Hong Kong film director has made movies such as Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle, and The Journey To The West (which essentially is pretty much a Dragon Ball movie based on its original source material). Heck, bring him over to do it in the West as well!


Regardless, considering Dragon Ball's continued success, we believe it's not a matter of "if" a live action adaptation will happen, but when.

The Japanese-language and English dub releases of Dragon Ball Super are now complete and available to stream with FunimationNOW and Crunchyroll. Viz Media is releasing new chapters of the manga at a monthly rate that can be read entirely for free through the Shonen Jump digital library, and Dragon Ball Super's big movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Fans in Japan are also able to enjoy fresh non-canon adventures from the franchises with new episodes of Super Dragon Ball Heroes' promotional anime series.