The original Funimation logo used from 1994 to 2005
The company was founded on June 14, 1994 by Japanese-born businessman Gen Fukunaga. Fukunaga's uncle, Nagafumi Hori, was working as a producer for Toei Company; Hori approached Gen about licensing Dragon Ball to the United States. He proposed that if Fukunaga could start a production company and raise enough money, Toei Animation would license the rights to the franchise. Fukunaga met with co-worker Daniel Cocanougher whose family owned a feed mill in Decatur, Texas and convinced Cocanougher's family to sell their business and serve as an investor for his company. The company was originally formed in Silicon Valley, California as Funimation Productions in 1994, but eventually relocated to Flower Mound, Texas, located near Fort Worth. They initially collaborated with other companies on Dragon Ball, such as BLT Productions, Ocean Studios, Pioneer and Saban Entertainment. By 1998, after two aborted attempts to bring the Dragon Ball franchise to a U.S. audience via first-run syndication, it finally found success through the broadcast of the Dragon Ball Z series on Cartoon Network's action-oriented programming block Toonami, and the Dragon Ball phenomenon quickly grew in the United States as it had elsewhere. This led Funimation to begin licensing other anime to the U.S.
Starting in September 2003, Funimation, along with British company Maverick, has distributed titles from Canada-based Nelvana, including Redwall, Pecola, Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Timothy Goes to School and the Disney Channel TV special
The Santa Claus Brothers.
On May 11, 2005, Funimation was acquired by the now-defunct Navarre Corporation for US$100.4 million in cash and 1.8 million shares of Navarre stock. As part of the acquisition, the president Fukunaga was retained as head of the company, transitioning to the position of CEO, and the company's name was changed from Funimation Productions to Funimation Entertainment.
In 2007, Funimation moved from North Richland Hills, Texas to Flower Mound. Funimation moved into the Lakeside Business District with a ten-year lease.
Acquisition of Geneon and ADV licenses and online streaming
According to an interview in February 2008 with Navarre Corporation CEO Cary Deacon, Funimation was in early stage negotiations to acquire some of the titles licensed through Geneon's USA division, which ceased operations in December 2007. In July 2008, Funimation confirmed that they had acquired distribution rights to several Geneon titles, including some that Geneon had left unfinished when they ceased operations.
At Anime Expo 2008, Funimation announced that it had acquired over 30 titles from the Sojitz catalog that had previously been licensed by ADV Films.
In 2009, Funimation signed a deal with Toei Animation to stream several of its anime titles online through the Funimation website and Hulu.
In the first quarter of 2010, Navarre Corporation reclassified Funimation as "discounted operations" and began preparations to sell the company. Navarre released a statement in April 2011 confirming that Funimation has been sold to a group of investors, including original owner Gen Fukunaga, for $24 million. It is speculated that Funimation was sold at such a low cost (in comparison to how much it was originally purchased for, almost $100 million in cash and $15 million in stock in 2005) because Navarre wanted to continue distributing goods in relation to the products, but not handle the publishing. Navarre remained as exclusive distributor of Funimation's titles until 2013 when the company shutdown.
On October 14, 2011, Funimation announced a permanent partnership with Niconico, the English-language version of Nico Nico Douga, to form the 'Funico' brand for the licensing of anime for streaming and home video release. From this point on, virtually all titles simulcasted by Niconico were acquired by Funimation. The deal has since been severed.
In 2014, Funimation released Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods to theatres in partnership with Screenvision. Based on its success, Funimation launched its own theatrical division in December 2014.
Funimation logo from May 11, 2005 to January 7, 2016. The colored version was used until April 2011.
On June 22, 2015, Funimation and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment announced a multi-year home video distribution deal. The deal will allow UPHE to manage distribution and sales of Funimation's catalog of titles. Universal began distributing Funimation's titles in October of that year.
FunimationNow and partnership with Crunchyroll
In January 2016, Funimation announced a new streaming service, FunimationNow, along with a new logo. The service also is available in the UK and Ireland, the first time the company has expanded beyond North America.
On September 8, 2016, Funimation announced a partnership with Crunchyroll. Select Funimation titles will be streamed subtitled on Crunchyroll and select Crunchyroll titles will be streamed on FunimationNow, including upcoming dubbed content. In addition, Funimation and Universal will act as distributors for Crunchyroll's home video catalog.
On May 18, 2017, Shout! Factory acquired the North American distribution rights to In This Corner of the World, with a U.S. theatrical release to take place in August 11, 2017, co-released by Funimation Films.
On October 18, 2018, Funimation announced that their partnership with Crunchyroll has ended as a result of Sony Pictures Television's acquisition of Funimation and AT&T's acquisition of Crunchyroll's parent company Otter Media.
Acquisition by Sony Pictures
In May 2017, it was reported that Universal Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment were interested in purchasing Funimation; however, Universal decided not to proceed with the bidding. On July 31, 2017, Sony Pictures Television announced that it would buy a controlling 95% stake in Funimation for $143 million, a deal that was approved by the United States Department of Justice on August 22, 2017. This deal allows Funimation to have synergies with Sony's Animax and Kids Station divisions and "direct access to the creative pipeline". The deal was closed on October 27, 2017.
On February 16, 2018, it was reported that Shout! Factory's Shout! Studios division acquired the U.S/Canadian distribution rights to Big Fish & Begonia and partnered with Funimation Films again for distribution.
On July 12, 2018, it was announced that Funimation Films had picked up licensing rights for Dragon Ball Super: Broly in North America and that its English dub would premiere in theaters sometime in January 2019 in the United States and Canada, only around a month after its national premiere in Japan.
In August 2018, WarnerMedia fully acquired Otter Media, owner of Crunchyroll. On October 18, 2018, Funimation and Sony Pictures announced that their partnership with Crunchyroll will end on November 9, 2018. Despite the home video releases being unaffected and still going on as planned, select Funimation content will be removed from Crunchyroll, and subtitled content will return to FunimationNow. Also, Funimation will be removed from Otter Media-owned streaming service VRV entirely, being replaced by Hidive. On February 1, 2019, Gen Fukunaga announced that he would be stepping down as general manager, and transitioning to chairman of the company.
On December 4, 2018, Funimation inked an exclusive multi-year first-look SVOD deal with Hulu.
On March 23, 2019 at AnimeJapan 2019, Funimation announced that they had partnered with Chinese streaming service Bilibili to jointly license anime titles for both US and Chinese markets.