Funimation

Funimation
Formerly
FUNimation Productions (1994–2005)
FUNimation Entertainment (2005–present)
Subsidiary
IndustryEntertainment
FoundedMay 9, 1994; 24 years ago (1994-05-09)[1]
FounderGen Fukunaga
Cindy Fukunaga
HeadquartersFlower Mound, Texas, U.S.
Area served
North America, British Isles
Key people
Gen Fukunaga (President and CEO)
ProductsAnime, motion pictures, Japanese/Asian cinema
ParentSony Pictures Television (95%)
Gen Fukunaga (5%)
SubsidiariesFunimation Films[2]
Websitewww.funimation.com

Funimation Productions, LLC[3] (commonly known as Funimation) is an American entertainment company that specializes in the dubbing and distribution of foreign content, most notably anime. Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, is its majority owner. Based in Flower Mound, Texas, the studio is one of the leading distributors of anime and other foreign entertainment properties in North America alongside Viz Media, Sentai Filmworks, Aniplex of America, and more. Their most popular property is Toei Animation's action-adventure series Dragon Ball Z, which had a successful run on Cartoon Network's Toonami block from 1998 to 2003, and has been re-released on DVD and Blu-ray several times since.

The company was founded on May 9, 1994 by Gen Fukunaga and his wife Cindy as FUNimation Productions, with funding by Daniel Cocanougher and his family, who became investors in the company. Funimation was sold to Navarre Corporation on May 11, 2005 and the company was renamed FUNimation Entertainment.

In April 2011, Navarre sold Funimation to a group of investors including Fukunaga (and John A. Kuelbs) for $24 million.[4] Around the same time, the company's trademark ball, star and blue bar were dropped from its logo and the company was renamed to simply Funimation.[5] In May 2013, Funimation consolidated its divisions under its new holding company Group 1200 Media. Kuelbs became Chairman of Funimation/Group 1200 after the acquisition from Navarre. Kuelbs and Fukunaga continued to make additional investments into Funimation. A new senior management was brought on and a multi-year distribution deal was announced with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In January 2016 FunimationNow, a new ad free HD anime streaming service with Sony subscription, was announced at the CES show in Las Vegas. On July 31, 2017, Sony Pictures Television announced plans to acquire a 95% stake in Funimation for $143 million while Gen Fukunaga would retain his position with a 5% share.[6][7] The deal was closed on October 27, 2017.

Funimation is a portmanteau of the English words "fun" and "animation". From 2016 to 2018, Funimation had a partnership agreement with Crunchyroll.[8][9]

History

The original Funimation logo used from 1994 to 2005

The company was founded on June 14, 1994 by Japanese-born businessman Gen Fukunaga.[10] 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.[11] 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 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.[12].

Purchase by Navarre Corporation

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. M[13][14]

In 2007, Funimation moved from North Richland Hills, Texas to Flower Mound; the standalone Flower Mound facility has double the square footage of the space Funimation occupied previous North Richland Hills facility; in the North Richland Hills facility Funimation shared the building with other tenants.[15] Funimation moved into the Lakeside Business District with a ten-year lease.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19]

In 2009, Funimation signed a deal with Toei Animation to stream several of its anime titles online through the Funimation website and Hulu.[20]

Sale from Navarre, Nico Nico partnership and distribution deal

In the first quarter of 2010, Navarre Corporation reclassified Funimation as "discounted operations" and began preparations to sell the company.[21] 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.[4] 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.[22] The deal has since been severed.

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.[23] Universal began distributing Funimation's titles in October of that year.[24]

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.[citation needed]

On September 8, 2016, Funimation announced a partnership with Crunchyroll.[8] 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.[25]

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 home video being unaffected and already-announced upcoming home video releases up to January 2019 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.[26]

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.[27] 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.[28] This deal allows Funimation to have synergies with Sony's Animax and Kids Station divisions and "direct access to the creative pipeline".[29] 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.[30]

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.[31]

Other Languages
العربية: فنميشن
Deutsch: Funimation
español: Funimation
français: Funimation
한국어: 퍼니메이션
Bahasa Indonesia: Funimation Entertainment
italiano: Funimation
Nederlands: Funimation
português: Funimation
русский: Funimation Entertainment
suomi: FUNimation
svenska: Funimation
Tagalog: Funimation
українська: Funimation Entertainment
Tiếng Việt: Funimation Entertainment
中文: Funimation