Sony acquires anime distributor Funimation

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Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has paid $143m for a 95% stake in Funimation, which distributes Japanese anime content in the US.

Based in Flower Mount, Texas, Funimation handles distribution of some of Japan’s biggest anime properties, including Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Cowboy Bebop, Attack On Titan and My Hero Academia. It also operates a subscription streaming service FunimationNOW.

Funimation also acquired and handled US theatrical distribution of anime blockbuster Your Name (pictured), which has grossed $354m worldwide since its April 2016 release.

The deal will provide content for Sony’s animation channel, Animax, which operates in 23 countries, including Japan.

“Sony’s networks have been major players in the anime space for nearly two decades, and in more recent years we have rapidly increased our networks’ over-the-top and digital offerings to consumers,” said Andy Kaplan, SPT’s president of worldwide networks.

Funimation’s founder Gen Fukunaga will remain as chief executive officer and retain a minority stake. Sony has bought out other investors including Funimation chairman John Kuelbs, who will depart the company.

“With Funimation’s long-established leadership position in anime and Sony’s direct access to the creative pipeline in Japan, it will be a great partnership to take Funimation to the next level,” Fukunaga said.