Legendary Pictures announced at Anime Expo last Thursday that it will co-produce a live-action adaptation of the anime series ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ with series owners Sunrise. Legendary Entertainment is the company behind heavy CGI blockbusters such as ‘Jurassic World’, ‘Warcraft’, ‘Kong: Skull Island’, and ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’, to name a few.
Although ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ might not be a familiar name to most, Gundam is a huge Japanese cultural icon. To put it into perspective, DRAGON BALL, possibly the most popular anime in Western world – nets about $100 million in sales according to 2014 numbers. The Japanese entertainment company Bandai Namco owns the franchising rights to both DRAGON BALL and Gundam, and according to their financial reports Gundam nets over $800 million in sales annually in related products – 8 times the sales of DRAGON BALL merchandise. The Gundam series is hugely credited with popularizing the giant robot genre internationally, and is often cited as the inspiration behind recent giant robot movies such as Pacific Rim. Over the past thirty years, the ‘Gundam’ franchise has produced dozens of animated TV series, mangas, and video games and continues to grow as a franchise.
The new Gundam film will be the first Hollywood premier for the popular Japanese franchise. There have been previous anime to live-action adaptations in Hollywood such as Ghost In The Shell (2017), Dragonball Evolution (2009), and Speed Racer (2008) – all of which have failed to live up to fans’ expectations. Legendary Entertainment is also set to produce Detective Pikachu starring Ryan Reynolds, which is slated for release in the United States on May 10, 2019. Let’s see if either film can be the first to break the cultural barriers between anime and Hollywood.
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