Hollywood anime/manga adaptation films have failed miserably at the box office for a long time.
If you know anything about how those animated movies’ box office numbers and how inflation works, you will know that what big failure they are.
With that said, let’s examine the reasons for the failure.
Casting is the first place where these films go wrong. Let’s take a look at Fist of the North Star.
Casting white actors and actresses makes these types of films lack authenticity. However, that can be overlooked if the actor is good and brings a unique dynamic to the role.
Unfortunately, that has not happened.
This is Kenshiro in the manga and the animated film.
Here is Kenshiro from the Hollywood live action adaptation.
Let’s be honest, if you don’t know who the title actor is, would even a loyal fan still be eager to see it?
Not to discredit Daniels’ body of work. He’s an accomplished martial artist, but has never made it big in Hollywood because he can’t act.
Look, if Hollywood insists on casting actors who are clearly not right for the role, this will assist in failure.
The Speed Racer anime is a timeless classic. Tatsuo Yoshida created the wildly popular manga that quickly caught the gaze of the American audience.
Once the show debuted on American television, it became every kid’s dream to become Speed Racer.
Fast forward to 2008, and this is what we get…
Now this film has quite a cult following, but this is the perfect example of direction gone awry. The Wachowski were still riding high on The Matrix fame by the time Speed Racer released.
They thought to capitalize off nostalgia, and fans were initially excited. The underlying plot is pretty simple. Young kid loves to race cars, is really good at it, and always runs into foes and defeats them.
Sounds easy enough to recreate for the big screen.
Unfortunately, the direction is the film’s demise. Did they have to make this film look like a Saturday morning cartoon acid trip?
We understand with anime that is sometimes hard to do, but Speed Racer was a fairly simple concept and story. How they messed this up?
3. Poor Use of Source Material
We have seen some horrendous anime adaptations from Japan. What sets those films apart is the level of authenticity and how it relates to the source material.
Dragon Ball:Evolution comes to mind when we think about how not to use the source material. When you hear the name Dragon Ball you think of Goku like this.
Not like this.
OK, fine, maybe the story of alien monkey boy coming to Earth wouldn’t have necessarily worked as a live action story.
I understand things like this are why these types of adaptations are so difficult to translate.
Hollywood should accept the fact that many of these stories are not meant to be grounded in reality or adapted to live action. Respect for the source material can/will go a long way.
Fans are so invested in some of these stories, its possible they see no point in viewing a movie that has nothing to do with the story they know and love.
It’s Oldboy! Everyone loves the 2007 version from Korea. That means everyone will love the American remake, right?
WRONG! I’m sure many of you reading will be surprised to learn this was originally a Japanese manga written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi.
See, here is a case where you have a good actor (Josh Brolin), okay director (Spike Lee), and what seemed like a hearty budget. My god, its a scene for scene remake from the 2007 film.
Why didn’t people want to see this? Not only did folks not want to see this version of Oldboy, it goes down in history as one of the most abysmal box office failures ever.
I believe the responsibility of failure goes partially to marketing department. I saw a few posters and almost no trailers.
What audience is Spike Lee trying to target? An indie crowd? A blockbuster crowd? I couldn’t tell. Neither could anyone else, apparently.
So what do people do when they want to avoid confusion? They move on to the next movie.
That is where failure comes in. Hollywood should know better and do better.