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Are English Dubs Dying (at least in US Theaters)?

Discussion in 'The Anime Forum' started by WickedChild, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. WickedChild

    WickedChild Kissing the shadows

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    Makoto Shinkai's Your Name is finally getting a US theatrical release starting this Friday, so I was looking at the showtimes for theaters in my area. Typically, anime would only get shown at one of two theaters near me (our local art-houses), and when I looked at their showtimes I was dismayed to see this:

    upload_2017-4-2_16-27-30.png

    Setting aside the fact that 4:40PM is a terrible time to go to a theater (especially if it's a drive through rush-hour traffic), I've noticed in the past couple years that the trend seems to be swaying more and more this way. Subtitled showings are increasing, and getting more prime-time slots, while dubs are getting relegated to rush-hour slots and Saturday mornings.

    Now granted, again this is one of our art-houses, so I guess it makes sense that they'd cater more toward an audience that prefers subtitles, but this movie is actually getting shown at a couple of other chain theaters nearby, and the showtime situation is about the same. This would have never happened even about a year ago. I remember seeing the dub of Only Yesterday at this particular art-house at 7:30pm on a Friday night, with a subtitled showing at 9:45 later that same night (there were definitely more people in the dubbed showing).

    Furthermore, most of the movies I've seen this happen for have been GKids release, so for a while I assumed that they were dictating to the theaters that the subbed showings should get preference. Again, that makes a little more sense since GKids tends to release the more art-house type stuff. But Your Name in particular is a Funimation release, and I NEVER remember seeing a Funimation release that didn't give the dubbed showings the prime slots (The Boy and the Beast and Summer Wars being fairly recent examples).

    I'm totally fine with theaters and distributors wanting to give Subbed showings equal preference in the showtimes, but it now seems to be going beyond equal to clearly giving preference to subs. This upsets me since it makes me feel they may stop dubbing movies like this entirely in the near future. I really hope it doesn't go that far.

    Has anyone else noticed this trend, and if so what are your feelings about it?
     
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  2. jaylop97

    jaylop97 Commonly found at Night

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    It's really rare to ever find an anime movie getting advertised heavily and do well in the US. Most of the better examples were back in the day with Pokemon and Yugioh with certain others, they did well. But lately these are just so hidden they end up not bringing in a ton of viewers. I think that for the most part they are just not successful as back then given that most people don't even know of their existence, either they need to be franchise big movies or get well advertised.

    Though it doesn't help that these movies are limited released, which annoys me as well given that I did wanted to see certain movies at times like Yugioh Dark Dimensions but at my place no airings because it was limited, and when I checked elsewhere It wasn't as frequent on the schedule either.

    If companies ever did give them a bigger release with more advertising then I think things can change for these movies.
     
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  3. SB20xx

    SB20xx Oooooh!
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    Recently they showed Sailor Moon R: The Movie (dubbed version) at a theater near me at 7 PM on Saturday. So it really varies.
     
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  4. WickedChild

    WickedChild Kissing the shadows

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    I wasn't talking about the fact that they are limited release, but rather the fact that the subbed versions are getting so many more (and better) showtimes than the dubbed versions nowadays. This is a fairly recent (last 1-2 years) phenomenon. As I said, even as recently as about a year ago, something as "art-house" as Only Yesterday still got the dubbed version shown in the prime slot (7:30pm) at this same theater as my screenshot above. Today, they only give Your Name dubbed version a single rush-hour timeslot.

    I didn't even know that one came to theaters? Or was it a festival showing or some other local exhibition? I'm really talking about the national releases of something like Your Name or the various Ghilbli movies GKids has done recently. Still, I'm surprised they'd show a dubbed version of Sailor Moon given the dub's reputation.
     
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  5. SB20xx

    SB20xx Oooooh!
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    It was a one-day only thing. But it was shown in a national theater chain.

    And just to clarify, it was the Viz/Studiopolis dubbed version they showed, not the old Optimum dub from the early 2000's. The Studiopolis dub has been very well-received overall, aside from a few haters (which is to be expected with pretty much anything).
     
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    #5 SB20xx, Apr 3, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  6. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

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    I think the problem with this theory is that your using your local listings as a definitive example. Screening availability vary wildly from region to region. For example since I live closer to the Metro-Detroit area we tend to get more screenings and variety because theater chains like AMC work some things out with the likes of Funimation and Viz through Fathom Events. We also have places like the Detroit Instittue of Arts which have themed screening nights (a lot of the Gkids catalogue gets shown here) and another local art house theater that consistenly supports anime releases through Eleven Arts. The closer you are to a well populated area the more options you have and because anime is niche it tends to have screenings located in places that would draw the most crowds. In my area dub showings are very common and I'm given a variety of options as such was the case in 2016 when my local AMC was showing Boy and the Beast subbed but because the theater wasn't "equipped" to show the subtitles I was able to see the dub at the local art house theater. Some people may not have that option and most anime movies have limited (usually one-night only) runs so it really depends on what print the companies decide to send to the theaters.
     
  7. WickedChild

    WickedChild Kissing the shadows

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    You're right, I'm using my local area (St. Louis BTW) as an example but that's because that's the only experience I know. Really, I was hoping to see if others were seeing the same thing I was. The impetus for posting was really the fact that, as I said, this has changed so dramatically in the past year+. Out of curiosity I just checked the theaters showing Your Name in the Detroit area, and indeed you have a lot more options than I do for dubbed showings. I guess part of the reason I was assuming this was a wider trend was also because this is the case for me in both my art-house theaters and our chain theaters that are carrying it (we have AMC, Marcus-Wehrenberg, and Regal). This was surprising since, like you, our chains often release Funimation and Viz stuff (especially the one-day releases), but never before have I seen subbed showings get such overwhelming preference.

    Maybe it's the movie in question - this is in all likelihood going to be the biggest anime release this year (no Miyazaki movie or Yugioh,DBZ,other big property). This would usually guarantee more dub showtimes, but maybe they view this as only appealing to the sub-crowd. Shinkai isn't the name Miyazaki was (yet), so it's not a natural draw, but for the fact that it has gotten a large amount of organic hype.

    I guess this means I need to call and yell at my local theater owners. It's no fun seeing these movies alone, and I'm sure as heck not getting any of my friends to come see a subtitled anime movie.

    I'll check out some other cities, with Funimation's theater locator, but sometimes it's frustratingly difficult to determine if an individual showing is actually a dubbed showing or subbed. Theater websites aren't always clear about it.
     
  8. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

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    Well it's sounds like this discussion should have been more focused on Your Name than if dubs were dying as a whole? There may be a number of reasons that Your Name has a more limited number of dub releases and a few of those you stated in your own response.

    Going back on topic I think it's actually showing how this niche industry has grown a bit by the fact that we are getting a subtitled option at all. Instead of framing this "Are dubs dying?" I think the counter argument is "Are anime movies now, at least, held in better regard that subtitled releases are more prolific?"

    I'll give you a few examples of recent mainstream anime releases. Back in January three high profile animes all got theatrical releases. One Piece, Sailor Moon and Yu-Gi-Oh.

    One Piece was released at my local AMC in one of the smaller screening theaters. (which is probably about 300 seats)
    Sailor Moon was shown at the local art house theater through Eleven Arts (also about 200 seats)
    Yu-Gi-Oh was shown at the mainstream local Emagine Theater but a bit farther from where I live (theater seemed smaller than the art house)

    All three were dubbed showings. One Piece had about I would say around 30-50 people come.
    Sailor Moon filled the entire theater, and Yu-Gi-Oh just about did the same. One Piece was spread over the course of the week, whereas Sailor Moon was one night-only, and Yu-gi-Oh I also beleive was one day only. From what I understand all three performed decently for their releases.

    Now this weekend I'm seeing the third subtitled Kizumongatari movie (from the Monogatari) franchise at the same theater I saw Sailor Moon. The screening I got tickets for is already sold out and the screening for the one after that is already over 2/3rds filled.

    The industry rarely shares numbers but I have seen a trend that the more mainstream a release is doesn't equate it filling seats in theaters (with the exception of the newer DBZ movies which were standing room only in rather large theaters) but the more niche something is, if it has a strong fanbase, they will come in droves.

    Overall it's a case by case basis and I don't see theatrical showings of dubs stopping anytime soon especially since it's proven in the overall industry that only helps the release.
     
  9. AnotherRandomGuy

    AnotherRandomGuy The cat's in the cradle

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    This is pretty much the standard for anime releases in the west (or rather most foreign films really), a limited theatrical run at best with a DVD release. Even Ghibli films don't last longer than a few weeks.

    Shin Godzilla, which is part of a universally known and profitable series was in US theaters for a week.

    Also films in their subtitled forms are the darlings of art house cinema, so it's only natural those would be given more attention.
     
  10. WickedChild

    WickedChild Kissing the shadows

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    Well you're right that my sample size is very small. I don't know if it's JUST Your Name though. The same thing happened here with When Marnie Was There last year, and while Only Yesterday had some prime-time dub showtimes, it alternated days with the sub showings. I think it was the same for Princess Kaguya as well. You are right though that One Piece had mostly dub showtimes. So if anything it's movies LIKE Your Name, as obviously stuff like One Piece/Sailor Moon/DBZ etc are popular properties that aren't gonna have much attention payed to them by the art-house community.

    I think the reason I saw it as a growing trend was because we're talking about movies that HAD dubs giving less showtimes to the dubs, which is something I had never seen. Again, like you I'm totally in favor of having equal showtime options for sub vs dub, but when it goes heavily in favor of the sub, that's just as upsetting to me as giving major preference to dubs. And it kinda makes you wonder why dub it in the first place? And if it really does turn into a trend, it makes you wonder if they'll just stop making dubs for "arty" movies like this one (obviously they'll never stop dubbing stuff like One Piece and DBZ), which would suck.

    Another thing that I see here that adds to my perception is that these same art-houses will occasionally show random older Ghibli movies for a night or two, and they NEVER show the dubs when they do that, despite the fact that they all have dubs now I believe (after Only Yesterday finally got one).

    I'm glad to hear that this appears to be more a local thing than a nationwide trend, however I'll be interested to see if, now that sub showings are getting more prolific, if it continues to swing further that way in other cities besides mine. I just don't want companies like GKids to decide that it's not worth the effort anymore to dub the more "high-class" releases like this, since those are the movies I'm usually most excited to see in theaters.
     
  11. SpaceCowboy

    SpaceCowboy Active Member

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    The theaters near me sometimes show dubbed during the day and subtitled after 6pm. I saw the Ghibli films GKIDS released that way.

    The practice of arthouse theaters preferring subtitled versions is nothing new, probably because most of the live-action foreign language films they show are also not dubbed. Back when Sony was releasing anime in theaters, the standard was subtitled. Cowboy Bebop: KOHD was an exception, because of pre-existing fanbase for the TV series dub.
     
    #11 SpaceCowboy, Apr 5, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  12. Antonio Bravo

    Antonio Bravo IDOL UP!

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    Guess Love Live! The School Idol Movie dubbed won't be in theaters even though the Japanese dub was on American theaters back then. But yes, the only ones I see are from Funimation Entertainment or a Ghibli Film.
     
  13. ilikepizzaandsoda

    ilikepizzaandsoda New Member

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    If were just talking dubs in general more dubs are actually being made now then ever because of simul dubs. In the case of movies anime has always had short runs in theaters.
     
  14. TheVileOne

    TheVileOne Peace Loving Shinobi
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    I would say not. I mean Theatrical anime dubs are pretty niche limited releases anyway. Plus, Crunchy Roll is doing the dub thing now too with Gintama, which is pretty insane. Also, I like the Gintama dub all things considered.
     
  15. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

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    Hey I just got back from seeing your name. Funny story, after all the discussion here I tried looking for advance screenings and all my Google searches came up with theaters that were in far away towns BUT when I checked my local theater listings today they had the dub screenings up. It's kind of funny how I was looking all week and it wasn't until day of they had the screenings officially listed.
     
  16. WickedChild

    WickedChild Kissing the shadows

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    As I said I think it IS something new, at least for my city it is. Our arthouses have always given some showtimes to subs, but NEVER more than the dubs, and the dubs would always get the prime-time slots. It's only been the past 12-18 months that I've been forced to go to a rush hour or earlier show to see a dub.

    Incidentally Your Name is phenomenally great, and the dub is great as well. I loved Stephanie Sheh alternating between her "girl Mitsuha" and "boy Mitsuha" voices. Sinterniklaas was great too. I adore these performances and I'd hate it if movies like this are eventually deemed to be not worth the trouble to dub.
     
  17. Takao

    Takao Fight the darkness all around

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    Forget the theatre, I'm wondering how much longer English dubs have in general. The anime industry and fandom as a whole have pushed immediacy over all else. Unless it's same day, it doesn't dictate online conversation, plus broadcast venues are drying up and streaming services are fine running sub-only content.
     
  18. Zeether

    Zeether Victory!

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    Considering the proliferation of simuldubs happening for Funimation licenses and how successful those have been (they wouldn't have continued if they were a flop, would they?) I don't see that going away any time soon. Heck, Netflix's anime licenses so far have a dub guaranteed. Broadcast venues may be going away but if this stuff with streaming is any sign it's not dealing much of a blow to dubs at all.
     
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  19. WickedChild

    WickedChild Kissing the shadows

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    Well I hope they're not "fine" with that. I sure as bloody heck wouldn't be "fine" with them running sub-only content. I mean I sure wouldn't be giving them my money anymore if it came to that. At that point I'm not ashamed to say I would go to outright piracy, since at that point the US licensor would have nothing of (real) value to offer (unless you actually still want something on DVD). We don't need them to bring us anime, we DO need them to dub it.

    Seriously, with the ease of obtaining free fansubs these days, at that point you'd basically be paying them for a clean conscience. And we should know full well by now just how much that's worth to most consumers...
     
  20. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

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    You know when the industry's bubble burst sometime in the late 2000s there was a lot of doom-saying about the future of dubs. Even Bang Zoom at the time made a statement that the future of there company dubbing things was uncertain yet fast forward to now and it seems like they're getting just as much work as Funimation.

    I think your statement more or less points out a problem with the current anime fan culture. Now that we have internet streaming we're pretty much getting stuff the same day as in Japan which is a huge phenomenon in modern anime culture. I have a few people I know who actually watch like 12 + series just because they can but then only focus on maybe 2-3 as the season continues. Now me being an older anime fan is a little more discerning. Simply put, I don't have time to watch every single new show that comes out and I feel just because that option is available does not mean that is the only way I should consume the show. Stuff like FlipFlappers, Re:Zero and more recently Yuri on Ice I go back and watch after their "internet buzz" period because I kept hearing allocades about them and they seemed worth looking at. This doesn't really endanger dubs because it's not like we've seen a drop off on DVD/Blu-ray sales. There are people in the fandom that were fansubs only who never contributed anything to the commercial industry and this kind of fan never seems to go away. Still numbers don't lie and I don't think streaming, Right Stuf, anime cons and Toonami would exist if fans didn't bother putting ANY money into the industry. This is the reason I know dubs will be around for a bit.
     

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