After a highly successful international run, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F opened in the domestic market in only 895 select theaters and playing only one time a night — at 7 PM and the performance here is as stunning as it was overseas in Japan. On Tuesday and last night, it had collected a whopping $1.97M and Wednesday is said to have drawn in another $1.55M on 900 theaters. The movie’s per screen average of more than $2,198 landed it in first place yesterday among all movies. Theater sell outs were reported in major metropolitan areas including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. They could pull in a similar $1.5M number tonight as well. In fact, this anime picture, on a budget of only $5M, could end up doing $18M to $19M in one week domestically.
The event-style just broke the mold of the traditional distribution pattern and playtimes. It made more than double the amount that Shaun The Sheep Movie did last night (which grossed $852K) in 1,300 less theaters.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F has 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.
Same is happening domestically. Battle of Gods grossed $2.5 million for its entire run. So Resurrection F on its first day took in 67% of that gross in one day.
“This film is a resounding victory on all levels,” said David Wengrod, VP of Theatrical Distribution for FUNimation Entertainment which is distributing. Gen Fukunaga is the founder and president of the FUNimation which deftly marketed this film to fan boys. As part of that push, it produced a special 15-minute, Dragon Ball Z themed pre-show to play before the film.
“We did a lot of grassroots efforts. Our budget was very low compared to Hollywood standards,” said Fukunaga who would not disclose the marketing budget. “We did careful media placement and didn’t do much TV. We bought a small flight of commercials which appeared on the Toonami block of Adult Swim.” He said they did a full court PR push and Internet promotional effort to Dragon Ball Z and anime fans. “We reached out to those who influence (Internet culture) to promote to their audiences. We were able tap existing fans through their channels and, in some cases, reached millions of their followers. We had a retail partner, Hot Topic, which did in-store promotions” that helped to get the word out. They also promoted Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F at Comic-Con and anime conventions.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F is the second feature from series creator, Akira Toriyama. The animated movie opens in Canada on Thursday, August 6, and will screen in about 1,030 theaters total during its limited theatrical engagement from August 4 – 12, 2015.
The movie is now the 8th highest anime opening of all time and the first limited event-style theatrical release to crack the box office Top 10. Well done.