Manga are Japanese comics and for this very short list I really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Since Ghost in the Shell is out today I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at what came before it.
Full disclosure, this was not a good idea. Now I could’ve bent the rules a bit, include Hollywood movies based on Japanese work in general, be it manga, anime or whatever else. But no, I’m not going to do that so to be included on this list a movie must be based on something that started as a manga. The fantastic Edge of Tomorrow for example is based on a Japanese light novel which has manga style illustration, but isn’t actually a manga. So that’s sadly not in, same goes for anything that was first an anime.
What did I eventually find? Well only 4 titles, and one of those is actually a Japanese-United States co-production. So without further ado here are the top 4 highest grossing Hollywood (ish) movies based on Manga.
4. Oldboy (2013) – $4.9 million
A lousy remake of the 2003 South Korean classic of the same name directed by Chan-wook Park, which in turn was based on the manga Old Boy (?rudo B?i R?zu Senki) written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi. This one is a perfect example of why some things are best left untouched. The box office (that $4.9 million is the film’s worldwide total), well that speaks for itself.
3. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie (2004) – $29.2 million
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie was released first in the US by Warner Bros. and according to wikipedia it’s a co-production between Japan and the United States. I bet they probably just payed for part of the budget, but really this is very much a Japanese movie. Also that $29.2 million only includes Warner’s piece of the pie, I couldn’t find any Japanese box office numbers for this. Yu-Gi-Oh! is based on a manga written and illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi.
2. Dragonball Evolution (2009) – $57.5 million
The less said here the better. The original Dragon Ball manga was written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama.
1. Speed Racer (2008) – $93.9 million
When the best thing on this list is the Wachowski’s Speed Racer you start to understand why just about no one wants Hollywood adapting manga or anime. Speed Racer is definitely not a good movie, but it’s not a bad one either. As for the source material, first published in 1966, Speed Racer was written by Tatsuo Yoshida.
I’ll probably return to this list in a couple years to include Ghost in the Shell, Alita: Battle Angel and maybe one day even Akira. Whether we eventually get a live-action Akira sooner rather than later will probably depend on the box office success of Ghost in the Shell. Right now Warner Bros. are courting Get Out director Jordan Peele and if he ends up making it, then maybe there’s a chance a live-action Akira doesn’t completely suck.