Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

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Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by WittyUsername » Sun May 24, 2020 7:35 pm

The Dragon Ball films that were released during the original run in the 80s and 90s were just part of double features that were shown at film festivals while kids were off from school. What’s more, most of them weren’t even an hour long. My question is, with how popular the franchise had already proven to be back then, why is it that Toei never bothered releasing an actual wide theatrical release? The first time we ever got one was Battle of Gods, and that was in 2013.

It confuses me because Fist of the North Star (which was also owned by Toei) had a mainstream theatrical release back in 1986, but Dragon Ball didn’t have one throughout its entire run?

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by JulieYBM » Sun May 24, 2020 7:48 pm

There was no financial gain to it and in terms of the format, it's not like it was really needed. Films don't need to be 80+ minutes long. They can be 45-60 minutes long and still be perfectly good.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by SuperSaiyaManZ94 » Sun May 24, 2020 7:50 pm

I assume they decided back in the day during the series' original run that doing just those over half hour movies paired up with other anime films for the annual Toei Cartoon Festival/Toei Anime Fair was plenty enough to get butts in seats at theaters where they played, and felt there wasn't really a need to sink resources into doing full theatrical length Dragon Ball films at the time. Of course, things changed between 1996 when the last of the original run in Path to Power came out to 2013 as the first nationally released Dragon Ball theatrical film given that the Toei Anime Fair closed in 2002 after disappointing returns during it's preceding summer run.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Robo4900 » Mon May 25, 2020 6:49 am

The first Broly movie was about 72 minutes long, and the 10th anniversary movie was about 89 minutes, in fairness.

As for why they were all released like this, I agree with SuperSaiyanManZ94; I think the assumption was that they would get more people to see them, and thus make more money, if you'd go see 3-5 shonen movies together, including Dragon Ball, than if any of these movies were released separately. It's almost assuredly just that simple.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by DBZAOTA482 » Mon May 25, 2020 7:52 am

Before Battle of Gods, none of the DB movies were meant to be major releases but rather retreats from the main story. That's why they're barely an hour long.

FUNimation also couldn't afford to put them in theaters.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Robo4900 » Mon May 25, 2020 10:19 am

DBZAOTA482 wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 7:52 am
FUNimation also couldn't afford to put them in theaters.
Funimation don't really count for anything here.
Dragon Ball is a goofy kids cartoon from a long time ago. You take it too seriously at your own peril.
Debate the plot, characters, adaptations, dubs, etc., criticise the home video, but never lose sight of the fact that it's all just entertainment. You're supposed to enjoy it. If you're not enjoying it, just walk away.

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Matches Malone » Mon May 25, 2020 10:53 am

Simple, they could make 2 short movies and have each make the same amount one longer one would. That's double the $$$. In terms of their length, fans always complain about the old movies being too short, but what have we gotten with these new movies and their 85+ minute lengths ? BOG wasted a lot of time on Pilaf and the party, RF wasted time with Freeza's men on earth, and Broly's second half was one big fight scene. You could easily cut those movies down to 60-70 minutes and lose nothing of value.

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by ABED » Mon May 25, 2020 11:21 am

How dare you, sir? The scenes with Pilaf weren't time wasted.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Matches Malone » Mon May 25, 2020 12:15 pm

ABED wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:21 am
How dare you, sir? The scenes with Pilaf weren't time wasted.
I had no issues with the idea of Pilaf being in the movie, but why on earth did he have to take up so much screen time ? He got between 10-15 minutes. Nothing felt underdeveloped so he didn't take anything away from more important things, but he didn't add anything valuable either. Thankfully it wasn't like in RF where the entire ending was rushed in favor of the movie taking its time with the fight between Freeza's goons and the Z fighters.

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by ABED » Mon May 25, 2020 12:57 pm

Matches Malone wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:15 pm
ABED wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:21 am
How dare you, sir? The scenes with Pilaf weren't time wasted.
I had no issues with the idea of Pilaf being in the movie, but why on earth did he have to take up so much screen time ? He got between 10-15 minutes. Nothing felt underdeveloped so he didn't take anything away from more important things, but he didn't add anything valuable either. Thankfully it wasn't like in RF where the entire ending was rushed in favor of the movie taking its time with the fight between Freeza's goons and the Z fighters.
He did add something valuable - humor.
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Matches Malone » Mon May 25, 2020 1:22 pm

ABED wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:57 pm
He did add something valuable - humor.
We must have a different meaning of humor, because nothing he did in that movie was funny.

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by ABED » Mon May 25, 2020 1:27 pm

Matches Malone wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:22 pm
ABED wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:57 pm
He did add something valuable - humor.
We must have a different meaning of humor, because nothing he did in that movie was funny.
Wait, there are objective standards for humor?
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by WittyUsername » Mon May 25, 2020 1:32 pm

Robo4900 wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 6:49 am
The first Broly movie was about 72 minutes long, and the 10th anniversary movie was about 89 minutes, in fairness.

As for why they were all released like this, I agree with SuperSaiyanManZ94; I think the assumption was that they would get more people to see them, and thus make more money, if you'd go see 3-5 shonen movies together, including Dragon Ball, than if any of these movies were released separately. It's almost assuredly just that simple.
I thought the 10th anniversary movie was 80 minutes?

Anyway, I guess that argument makes some sense, but like I said, the main reason this confuses me is because Fist of the North Star actually had a movie with a proper theatrical release that clocked in at nearly two hours. If Toei was willing to give Fist of the North Star a mainstream cinematic release, why not do the same with Dragon Ball?

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Matches Malone » Mon May 25, 2020 1:41 pm

ABED wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:27 pm
Wait, there are objective standards for humor?
No, I just didn't think any of it was funny.
WittyUsername wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:32 pm
If Toei was willing to give Fist of the North Star a mainstream cinematic release, why not do the same with Dragon Ball?
Because there was more money to be made. If you could make one long movie that brings in 5 million, or two short movies that bring in 5 million each, what would you do ?

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by ABED » Mon May 25, 2020 2:13 pm

Matches Malone wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:41 pm
ABED wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:27 pm
Wait, there are objective standards for humor?
No, I just didn't think any of it was funny.
WittyUsername wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:32 pm
If Toei was willing to give Fist of the North Star a mainstream cinematic release, why not do the same with Dragon Ball?
Because there was more money to be made. If you could make one long movie that brings in 5 million, or two short movies that bring in 5 million each, what would you do ?
I was being sarcastic, clearly. I get it, you didn't think it was funny, but I and many others did. It's a highlight of the movie.
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Vijay » Mon May 25, 2020 2:36 pm

Perhaps theatrical release was not needed. DragonBall was 🔥 with manga sales, anime series, merchandise, toys, games etc. So I assume TOEI must've felt there isn't a necessity to push or promote an already popular series with theatrical releases.

Besides, they're extended side-stories or counterparts to the manga/anime version. Like Fusion Reborn equivalent to Majin Boo time period Or M8 equivalent to pre-CG time period. It's also safer to avoid backlash from fans, given how some DB films are incredibly weak and also it's a matter of preference. Some may like pre-Broly era films, and hate latter DBZ films. Vice versa

I'm not one of the guys who follows "all hail Toriyama" or "hate Yammamuro" bandwagon blindly. That being said, I really miss for not being able to be in Japan during original runs of DB/Z films. Likewise, I'm also content to have not wasted my money on catching BOG, ROF & DBS Broly at theater 😂

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by Matches Malone » Mon May 25, 2020 4:19 pm

Vijay wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:36 pm
I'm content to have not wasted my money on catching BOG, ROF & DBS Broly at theater 😂
I would've loved to see BOG in theaters. RF was average at best, so there's nothing lost there. Although Broly isn't anything to write home about story wise, seeing that kind of production in theaters must've been great.

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by ABED » Mon May 25, 2020 4:25 pm

It wasn't simply a matter of seeing the movie but in theater. Watching BoG was one of my favorite movie going experiences because I was surrounded by DB fans and their reactions will stick with me forever.
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by kemuri07 » Mon May 25, 2020 10:35 pm

I think the simplest answer is probably the correct one.

Why spend years working on a full length feature film, when you could pump out a 40 min movie a year?

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Re: Why wasn’t there a proper theatrical Dragon Ball film back in the day?

Post by MyVisionity » Tue May 26, 2020 2:41 am

WittyUsername wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 1:32 pm
Robo4900 wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 6:49 am
The first Broly movie was about 72 minutes long, and the 10th anniversary movie was about 89 minutes, in fairness.

As for why they were all released like this, I agree with SuperSaiyanManZ94; I think the assumption was that they would get more people to see them, and thus make more money, if you'd go see 3-5 shonen movies together, including Dragon Ball, than if any of these movies were released separately. It's almost assuredly just that simple.
I thought the 10th anniversary movie was 80 minutes?

Anyway, I guess that argument makes some sense, but like I said, the main reason this confuses me is because Fist of the North Star actually had a movie with a proper theatrical release that clocked in at nearly two hours. If Toei was willing to give Fist of the North Star a mainstream cinematic release, why not do the same with Dragon Ball?
It could be that Toei thought that they had enough content to do a two-hour mainstream release of something like Hokuto No Ken, while Dragon Ball didn't have the sort of material that would reasonably work within a two-hour timeframe. The differences in pacing and tone between the two series may have discouraged Toei from attempting full-length features for DB and instead just sticking to the festivals.

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