Why Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Is a Lesson for the U.S. Box Office

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero has had a record-breaking opening in the US and other overseas markets – even while it took a massive second-week plunge at the box office. Super Hero also had one of the series' lowest openings in Japan – an overall mixed bag of performance that analysts are now sifting through. However, as we discuss below, the conversation in Dragon Ball fan and pundit chats is not one of despair; quite the contrary, a lot of people now seem to think that Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero will mark an important milestone lesson for the US movie industry. 

Why Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Is An Important Lesson For The US Box Office

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(Photo: Toei Animation)

As the tweet above indicates, the viewing patterns of anime theatrical releases in the US has a lot impact on Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero's box office performance. For years now, anime features have been billed by theaters as being exclusive limited-engagement "events," much like concerts or other events screened in theaters. It's only been in the last few years that anime movie releases have started to be treated more like traditional movie releases – if only like indie movies, with limited releases. 

More: Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Box Office Compared to Recent Anime Movie Releases

As you can see in the article linked above, anime movie releases have been steadily inching up the box office charts (and adding bigger theatrical releases) between the time that Dragon Ball Super: Broly was released in January 2019, and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero's release, now. That progression has culminated in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero winning the US box office in its opening weekend with almost no official marketing and promotion – certainly, exponentially less promotion than competition like Idris Elba's Beast, Brad Pitt's action-comedy Bullet Train, or holdover hits like Top Gun: Maverick and DC's League of Super Pets

Don't Call It Gra$$roots

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(Photo: Toei Animation)

It's not quite accurate to call Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero's box office success in the US a "grassroots campaign" as @Sasuraiger points out. Toei Animation and its partners (Crunchyroll, Sony Pictures) definitely launched nothing less than a worldwide promotional campaign for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero – including putting the film in somewhere between three and four thousand theaters on opening weekend – the biggest release Crunchyroll has ever done. 

Now Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is nothing less than irrefutable proof of concept: anime has gone so mainstream in the US and western hemisphere territories that the genres of film releases are box office contenders on the level of any Hollywood film – no longer just nice "event" releases. And the rise is far from over. 

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Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is now playing in theaters.