Has Disney Bought the Rights to Dragon Ball?

Has Disney Bought the Rights to Dragon Ball?

Remember 2017, when it was announced that there would be an acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney? Well, the acquisition was completed in 2019 and with it, Disney has effectively expanded its slate of rights over several other fictional characters, mostly from the Marvel Universe; but that is not it. Namely, and this has gone under the radar for most fans, Disney has also obtained the rights to Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, albeit only a small portion of it. In this article, we are going to give you all the details related to this topic.

When the Disney-Fox merger was completed in 2019, Disney obtained all the assets previously owned by Fox. Among other, Disney also obtained the rights to a small portion of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball franchise – Dragon Ball Z, but only in terms of making and distributing live-action movies. Everything else is still owned by Toriyama and his Japanese publishers.

In the remainder of this article, we are going to talk about the business side of this transaction, as well as the artistic one. We are going to tell you what happened and how, as well as how Toriyama’s Dragon Ball is connected to this acquisition. You’re also going to find out what this acquisition actually means for both Disney and Dragon Ball.

Has Disney bought the rights to Dragon Ball?

In December 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced its intention to purchase a majority of the assets of 21st Century Fox. The transaction was completed on March 20, 2019 with the dissolution of 21st Century Fox, the acquisition of several assets by Disney and the creation of a new company, Fox Corporation as well as several sales to other companies to obtain the agreement of the various international anticompetitive commissions.

The amount of the transaction is 71.3 billion USD for Disney from which must be deducted the sums recovered from the constrained sales. The main assets purchased by Disney are 20th Century Fox, FX, Fox Networks Group, the 73% stake in National Geographic Partners, Star India and 30% of Hulu.

Fox Corporation includes Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Television Stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Deportes, and Big Ten Network. The main assets sold are Sky to Comcast, Fox Sports Net to Sinclair Broadcast Group.

If you remember, this was one of the biggest industry things several years ago. We all know that Disney finally obtained the rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, which was a potentially amazing thing for the MCU, as well as some other major projects like The Simpsons. But, there was also something for anime fans in this merger, something that most people missed but could be potentially important.

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Namely, at the time of the merger, Fox owned the rights to the original live-action Dragon Ball movie, as well as the rights to produce and distribute live-action Dragon Ball movies. The anime was, of course, off limits even to Fox. With Disney buying off all of Fox’s assets, the Mouse’s company also obtained the rights to the live-action production and distribution of live-action Dragon Ball movies.

Now, this could, potentially, be a big thing for the future of the franchise, as Disney might decide to focus on Toriyama’s series, but there’s a catch. Namely, when the original live-action Dragon Ball movie was released, it became such a big failure that even Akira Toriyama thought that the fans needed an apology. This is when he decided to revive the series with a feature-length anime movie.

Now that you know the main story, let us talk a bit about the future of the franchise.

Will Disney make new Dragon Ball movies?

As of June 2022, Disney hasn’t really released any information on the future of the Dragon Ball franchise in the scope of its ownership rights. Namely, as we have explained, Disney has access to a very limited portion of Toriyama’s franchise, so they cannot do much at this moment save produce live-action movies. But, are they going to?

I heard this rumors a few days ago that Disney is planning to start a new Dragon Ball live-action franchise with the hope of replicating the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, this is only a rumors, I don’t know if it’s TRUE or what. I only hope to see super Saiyan 4 make an entrance one day on the live-action screen.

This actual rumor first appeared on the Instagram profile of a user named ultraraw26. If his insights are correct, Disney is planning to launch a live-action Dragon Ball cinematic universe which would, as it seems, be following Goku from his childhood to his adulthood. People speculate that Toriyama would agree to this, but after the failure of the first Dragon Ball live-action film, we’re not sure (he probably will, but not easily). There’s also the fact that anime series are rarely good in live-action formats, and Dragon Ball is one of those majestic franchises that need either a proper treatment, or no treatment at all.

This is why we are not really certain that Disney will be as successful as it has been with the MCU. Dragon Ball is a very specific world of its own, much like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but in a different format. It is much more rigid than Marvel’s comics and there is little to no space for experiments and novelties, which is something Disney likes to do (and not always in the best way imaginable). Plus, there’s also the censorship, which will certainly cripple a lot of ideas.

The future of Disney’s Dragon Ball franchise is unknown. Whether they are going to revive the live-action franchise – as that is the only thing they can actually do – is not known at this moment but if they do, they’re going to have a tough job. This is why, in all honesty, we’re not sure that a live-action Disney Dragon Ball movie would be something that the franchise needs at this, or any other point in time.

  • Arthur S. Poe has been fascinated by fiction ever since he saw Digimon and read Harry Potter as a child. Since then, he has seen several thousand movies and anime, read several hundred books and comics, and played several hundred games of all genres.