In an attempt to frustrate me and millions of Dragon Ball enthusiasts, 20th Century Fox released (shudder!) Dragonball Evolution in the world almost exactly ten years ago. I watched this movie in the only acceptable way. I illegally downloaded it, and I watched it with Last Airbender later. It was 10 years ago that it first came to my attention. As I looked up, I saw that Disney now holds the rights to Dragon Ball.
Disney acquired Fox during the great monopoly. This included 20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to the franchise. Although we joke about Disney being a total vice in our childhoods, the realization that Dragon Ball, a franchise I have been following since before I even knew what a franchise was made me gasp. Although it’s not Sailor Moon it is close.
What’s the Catch?
Disney acquired Dragon Ball Z rights, but not the entire franchise. The truth is that Disney only purchased the rights to make a Dragon Ball movie live-action and distribution rights.
Akira Toriyama and TOEI Animation still own the animated series, but they are all based in Japan. Funimation Entertainment, a Sony Pictures Entertainment subsidiary, still controls the English dub. Shueisha holds the final rights.
Who is Dragon Ball Super’s owner?
Toei Animation produced “Dragon Ball Super”, a 131-episode anime television series adaptation of the manga. It aired in Japan between July 2015 and March 2018. All rights to Dragon Ball Super are owned by Shueisha.
But, it is a different story when it comes to Dragon Ball Super Broly . Because it’s an anime film, Disney will have the theatrical and distribution rights. The same applies to the sequel. The film was released in August 2022.
Disney to make new Dragon Ball films?
Disney has not released any information regarding the future of the Dragon Ball franchise beyond its rights. As we explained, Disney only has limited access to Toriyama’s franchise so they can’t do much other than produce live-action movies. But are they going?
This rumor was first reported on Instagram by ultraraw26. His insights suggest that Disney plans to launch a live action Dragon Ball cinematic universe, which would, it seems, follow Goku’s life from childhood through adulthood. Many speculate that Toriyama would be open to the idea, but after the disappointing first Dragon Ball live action film, we aren’t sure. He may, but it is not likely. It’s also important to note that anime series rarely work well in live-action format. Dragon Ball, for example, is one of those iconic franchises that needs either a proper treatment or none at all.
We aren’t sure that Disney will have the same success with the MCU. Dragon Ball has its own world, similar to Tolkien’s Middle Earth. However, it is in a different format. It’s much more rigid than Marvel comics, and there is very little space for experimentation and novelties. This is something Disney loves to do, but not always in the most creative way possible. There’s also the possibility of censorship which can severely limit many ideas.
It is not clear what the future holds for Disney’s Dragon Ball franchise. It is unknown at the moment if they will revive the live action franchise. But if they do, it’s going to be a difficult job. We don’t think a live-action Disney Dragon Ball film would be a good idea at this time or any other.