Thursday, May 23, 2024

CinemaCon 2024 Recap: Crunchyroll

Sony may not have a full presentation at this year’s CinemaCon, but they didn’t skip the conference as a whole. Today, Crunchyroll took the stage as the National Association of Theater Owners kicked off the 2024 gathering of movie theater owners and exhibitors. As most studios do in their CinemaCon presentations, Crunchyroll took the time to highlight a few upcoming releases. Crunchyroll Senior Vice President of Global Commerce Mitchel Berger had a more pressing goal than just hawking new movies: he wanted to convince theater owners of the growing power of the anime audience.

“Anime is a medium, not a genre,” Berger explained. He took the time to carefully describe what anime is, why it’s essential, and how it can help exhibitors and theaters grow with a passionate audience. “Anime is red hot right now. Everyone else is catching up and realizing it is a cultural and economic force to be reckoned with.” Accompanying Berger’s presentation was a sizzle reel highlighting the power of anime and the $445 million earned at the global box office by Crunchyroll. Combating the notion that anime is too niche of an audience for movie theaters to cater to, Berger noted that Crunchyroll’s demographics “over-index on black, Hispanic, Asian-American, and LGBTQ audiences.” He also pointed out that these anime fans “don’t age out. They’re fans for life.”

Wisely, Berger’s impassioned plea to take anime seriously highlighted films they didn’t distribute in North America, like Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning “The Boy and the Heron,” alongside their own hits like “Suzume.” This wasn’t merely a pitch for Crunchyroll. Berger wanted theater owners to know that by hosting anime films, they’re gaining access to a fanbase that will see these films repeatedly. “We hope you’re intrigued by what Crunchyroll and anime have to offer,” he concluded.

Before leaving, Berger highlighted a few upcoming theatrical releases that audiences can anticipate. The first one is “Haikyuu!! The Dumpster Battle,” which will be shown at U.S. theaters on May 31st. This intense volleyball anime is the first of two films intended to wrap up the anime series. Next up is “Blue Lock: The Movie – Episode Nagi.” The first season of this football (or soccer for us Americans) anime series is available on Crunchyroll. They debuted an exclusive clip at CinemaCon, teasing a fierce competition to become a striker. The film lands in U.S. theaters on June 28th. Berger was also excited to announce the acquisition of the North American rights to “Overlord: The Sacred Kingdom,” though no release date was announced. Finally, Berger concluded by teasing their next theatrical release, “Spy x Family Code: White,” coming to North American theaters on April 19th. Berger gave a primer explanation of this spy comedy series, showcasing the film’s first ten minutes. Both dubbed and subtitled versions of these films will be released in U.S. theaters.

For almost two decades, movie theaters have shifted and adjusted their business models to combat streaming services and cater to more niche audiences that desire a unique theatrical experience. Sony’s choice to forgo their own presentation in favor of an extended look at the power of anime through Crunchyroll is a wise strategic move. Only time will tell if more theaters will showcase anime screenings, but Berger’s strong presentation will certainly go a long way to convincing them to do so.

What was your favorite piece of news from the Crunchyroll panel at CinemaCon this year? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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