FINAL UPDATE, Thursday, August 20th, 12:05 PM: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F has left theaters racking up a whopping $8.4M in its final tally. It will now head into home video release, starting on Oct. 9th in North America. And to capitalize on the fan-crazed run, all three Dragon Ball Z titles will be released simultaneously. The film was initially supposed to play from Aug. 4 to Aug. 12 but because of the stupendous box office takes in the theaters it was playing in, exhibitors asked to continue to play it.
FUNimation Entertainment, which marketed and distributed the film, agreed to let it run past the initial end date and it was a good move as the anime movie took in more in one week than other mainstream movies in wide release. This one played only one time a day in most places and two times a day when it could in a handful of theaters.
5TH UPDATE, Thursday, 12:58 PM: Distributor FUNimation is keeping its indie anime hit Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F in some theaters beyond its original nine-day run that was to end last night. The company said it’s been getting calls today from some outfits asking to keep the movie playing at least through the weekend. The sides are still working out details about screen counts and locations, but it’s a major blue ribbon for FUNimation, which marketed the film solely on the grassroots level. The movie finished yesterday in 457 locals to surpass $8M at the box office after its nine days.
4TH UPDATE, Thursday, 11:17 AM: The final gross is in for the fan-charged anime feature Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. In one week, with a roller-coaster event release schedule — at its lowest, it was in the double-digits in number of theaters and at its highest was over 900 — the Japanese fan favorite ended its nine-day run last night in 457 locales. Wednescay added another $479K to bring the film’s final cume to a little over $8M for indie FUNimation, which marketed and distributed this film. Excellent run, considering the short span of release and that its marketing was all done on the grassroots level.
3RD UPDATE, Wednesday, 10:46 AM: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F grossed $1.2M yesterday and ranked No. 1 in average per screen over all other new releases this past weekend (and including sophomore player and No. 1 weekend champ Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation) with $1,475. The new North American cume for this anime surprise is now $7.5M+ with one more day left to play. So it’s not over yet.
2ND UPDATE, TUESDAY, 9:59 AM: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F is now up to $6.3M after a very strong Sunday play in only 181 theaters. And they reached that gross with only one showtime in most of the theaters since releasing the anime pic on Tuesday. Yesterday and today, the execs at FUNimation were able to capitalize on the film’s fan-crazed success and got some great news from exhibitors anxious to play the pic: It’s now able to up the theater count from the planned 200 theater to between 780 to 800 today.
The anime wonder is also being allowed to be played not only once in the afternoon but also once at night tonight with some exhibs. The distributor expects another very strong performance today before ending its run on Wednesday when the film will be in approximately 200 theaters … or, at this point, maybe more, given that exhib reponse has been through the roof.
UPDATE, MONDAY, 10:25 AM: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F grossed $322K on 183 screens yesterday for a per screen avg of $1,761 — which was the anime film’s highest per screen average of the weekend. The three-day weekend churned out a total gross of $1,811,063 and that was with a limited number of theaters on Friday. The anime picture, marketed and distributed by FUNimation Entertainment, which played mostly in matinees on Saturday and played on only 183 screens Sunday, now has a total cume of $5.97M since opening on Tuesday.
Resurrection F stepped into the Top Ten of highest-grossing anime titles domestically and marked the first time an indie-distributed title got into those ranks. It will continue to play until Wednesday, in 200 theaters tonight and then 250 on Tuesday. More grosses to come as we get them.
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY, 8:52 AM: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F grossed another $1.36M on Saturday to bring its five-day total to $5.58M in North America, easily jumping past the total domestic grosses of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle ($4.7M) and The Wind Rises to become the first indie in the Top 10 highest grossing Anime films domestic. In fact, it bleated out the Shaun the Sheep Movie which was playing in major chains across the country and on many more screens (2,320 theaters) to gross $4M since bowing on Wednesday. Resurrection F, from FUNimation, opened on Tuesday and was in a smattering of theaters in a sporadic run. It now becomes No. 9 of Top Anime domestic grossers and Wind Rises (with $5.2M) is now No. 10.
To reach that spot is even more noteworthy because both of Miyazaki’s films were released by Disney and had to play for weeks to get their grosses. Not so, with Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F which has been on a rollercoaster event release schedule and playing for only one week.
And because of the success, the Japanese fan favorite is able to add theaters on Monday (initially, they were going to go dark).
“Due to overwhelming response from our fans, we have over 200 theaters coming back on for tomorrow,” said Michael DuBoise, exec VP and chief operating officer of FUNimation who oversees marketing and distribution for the pic. “And we now have 250 for Tuesday so that will be 450 locations for those two days that we didn’t have in our initial plan. Our fan base has really embraced the film, and it’s going push (the gross) even higher in the week.” Wednesday the film will stay in a number of theaters (367) so the final gross will be reported then.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F already grossed $51.6M overseas. It scored the biggest opening in Japan of 2015 and it had some stiff competition with Universal’s Fast & Furious 7 (as it was titled internationally). It was released by Fox in Japan and took No. 1 to mark a 40% higher opening than its predecessor, Dragonball Z: Battle Of Gods in 2013.
Interestingly, Kelli Crain, VP of marketing who (like DuBoise) came from the Home Video unit at Universal, worked on Battle of the Gods so was very familiar with the fan base and exactly how to reach them. By the way, Battle of Gods grossed $2.5 million for its entire run but on its first day, Resurrection F took in 67% of that gross.
To reach those fans, Crain oversaw a grassroots campaign on the Internet and social media fan sites because there was little money for marketing. Because of that, they bought very little TV and only spent media for the Toonami block of Adult Swim. They grabbed retail partner Hot Topic to launch in-store promotions as they promoted the anime film at Comic-Com and anime fan conventions. To add excitement and drive fans into the theater, they also produced a special 15-minute Dragon Ball Z themed pre-show to play before the film.
The result was a highly successful week-long box office run that the industry won’t soon forget.