Sony Pictures Courts Anime Fans with Major Funimation Acquisition

Sony Pictures has paid for 95 percent of Funimation Productions’ shares, significantly increasing their foothold on the anime licensing and distribution game.

Funimation Productions is an anime licensing and distribution company that also operates an online streaming service called FunimationNow, where fans can access new episodes of their favorite anime series dubbed in English as soon as two weeks after it airs in Japan. They also sell DVDs and merchandise on their website and play a large role in spreading the popularity of anime in the United States.

The agreement between Sony Pictures and Funimation Studios valued the anime distribution company at $150 million, though Sony ultimately paid $143 million. Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga will also stay on in his current position.

Andy Kaplan, president of Worldwide Networks at Sony Pictures, said of the deal:

“Around the world, Sony’s networks have been major players in the anime space for nearly two decades, and in more recent years we have rapidly increased our networks’ over-the-top and digital offerings to consumers. With the acquisition of Funimation, the combined IP of Animax, Kids Station and Funimation allows us to deliver the best anime to fans across all screens and platforms.”

Funimation licenses popular anime titles such as “Attack On Titan,” “My Hero Academia,” as well as classics like “Dragon Ball Z” and “Cowboy Bebop.”

Many Hollywood critics and executives have been mourning the tepid ticket sales at this summer’s box office, blaming the over-saturation of the business with too many sequels, reboots, remakes and franchises. Chris Aronson of Fox’s distribution branch bemoans that this summer’s movie landscape is “not exactly… littered with originality.”

As Hollywood producers hungrily chase down newer, fresher material to reinvigorate the movie-making business, anime has always been a deep well of brave and diverse stories. With Sony’s new majority hold on Funimation, the company is well-placed to bring anime fans more of the shows they love.