An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 20: It’s Time to Get Your Game Revved Up! (2011)

That’s right everyone. It’s time to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2011.

It’s…..

Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time.

What? What else Yu-Gi-Oh! related happened in 2011?

In the quarterly conference call for Q4 2009, taking place on March 24, 2010, Al Kahn told investors that they were in the process of dubbing the recently released Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D movie, Bonds Beyond Time. 4Kids made a really big deal out of the release, which was both fitting because it was a 10th anniversary event and because 4Kids was in dire straits and needed money. They showed a 20 minute preview at the San Diego ComicCon in July of 2010, and had Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG demonstrations, appearances by the voice actors, a cosplay contest, and a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A new booster pack featuring a selection of nine limited edition cards for the movie would also be available in stores on February 2011.

The full film would have a limited release in Cinedigm 3D theaters on February 26 and 27 2011, a repeat set of viewings would be available on March 5 and 6. Theatergoers would receive a promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card upon ticket purchase. The American version of the release includes over ten minutes of footage recapping events from the three series in order to ensure everyone in the audience is caught up to follow along.

The movie was basically as edited as anything 4Kids would usually release on TV, including editing the cards to once again not show the description, name etc. instead showing the picture, type and attack/defense points like normal – which was incredibly strange because the last Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, the one that was ordered by 4Kids, left the cards alone – and removing instances of text, which, from the Pokemon movie releases, they tended to not do on movies. These edits also included making an entirely new soundtrack, complete with new sound effects, which is another practice people thought 4Kids more or less stopped with the Pokemon movies, but I guess not.

The movie ended with a message saying “”Duelists, thank you for a decade of dueling…and the best is yet to come.””

Need I remind you that this movie was released in March of 2011….

This movie was also ridiculously short at 50 minutes, made to be 60-65 minutes on the American release. Meaning that the preview that was shown at ComicCon was really, not counting the recap, because I doubt they showed that there, nearly half the movie….

Reception for this movie was……uhm…bad. There were some good things to say about it, like how fun it was to see all three main protagonists of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise to date teaming up with each other, that it was intense and the pacing was good…..That was about it. To be fair, people did praise the English version for including the recap because it helped older fans and non-fans go into the movie without being confused. However, the recap seems to be missing from streaming releases, and in the DVD releases the recap was marked as an extra, not part of the actual movie.

Criticisms for the movie ranged from it being too short overall to the final duel being too short to the original Gen (Yugi) not being given enough focus while the most recent Gen, at the time (Yusei), being given too much focus to the animation being mid quality (not really up to snuff for a feature film) to the plot being way too simple and yet still loaded with plot holes that “even kids will see through.” to the villain being a rip-off of either Anubis or Dartz. Overall, it was written off by many as a movie designed purely to sell cards and less of a true celebration of the franchise’s ten year legacy. At best, it was just simple fun that old fans and newer ones could enjoy, but at worst it was a 50 minute long commercial that even fans would have difficulty wanting to watch more than once.

The movie made $2,017,928 in the Japanese box office (Which would be about ¥268,968,614.16) coming at sixth in the Japanese box office that weekend. When it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, it was the second most popular title of its genre.

Because of the limited release, box office returns of the movie in the US and the UK never surfaced. Worldwide, it had a box office return of $2.6mil but over $2mil of that is attributed to Japan’s theatrical release, and the other $600,000 was attributed to South Korea, so the actual figures seem incomplete to a certain degree.

To make matters even worse, 4Kids never released the movie on DVD. I don’t know if they were really able to at the time. *thunderclap* However, in the UK, Manga Entertainment, which had the distribution rights there, released the movie in theaters on May 14 and 21 in stereoscopic theaters, and then they released a DVD and Blu-Ray of the movie on May 30, 2011. The Blu-Ray would include the special promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card that wasn’t included in the UK theater release as it was in America, and the Japanese track with English subtitles. It had actually reached number two on Manga Entertainment’s best selling DVDs of the year, but Manga Entertainment pretty much spit at the success of the title claiming on their Twitter “I think [it was] because it was available in Asda and Morrisons, came with a free rare card and was stupidly cheap on [the] shelf.”

It wouldn’t be until 2014 when New Video Group would release the Blu-Ray and DVD in America, including the option to play the Japanese track with subtitles.

Honestly, I really feel like this was another instance of Al being a tiny bit delusional with how successful he thinks a title will be, or maybe, much more sadly, he knew how much Yu-Gi-Oh!’s revenues supported 4Kids and how they would likely be more reliant on the property in the future considering Pokemon was gone (but they were still getting residuals from it) so was TMNT, and Chaotic had fallen on its face. He probably really wanted the movie to be a huge success so he could maybe get a boost in sales and a big boost in interest before ZEXAL was released. At the very least, he was doing his damnedest to convince investors that 4Kids would be doing better this year. Maybe he didn’t really analyze the Japanese returns for the movie well enough or overestimated how successful it would be in America, which I can’t imagine how that’s possible considering how badly the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie did.

But oh how devastatingly wrong he was either way. The call was a few months before the audit, and I feel like Al must’ve known that the hammer was being bought to put the final nail in the coffin…..And the nail would meet that hammer a mere three weeks after the movie had been released…..

Next – Part 21: It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE!

Previous – Part 19: 4Kids Pre-Death Dead Period


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2 thoughts on “An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 20: It’s Time to Get Your Game Revved Up! (2011)

  1. It’s kind of strange, if 4Kids wanted this movie to be a success (and it looks like they desperately needed the cash) why did they have such a short release for this movie in the theaters? A few days in the theaters really isn’t much. I mean in 2010 I would have totally watched a Yu-gi-oh movie, but this is my first time hearing that it even existed. At around that time, I would have been super busy with school, but I don’t even remember seeing an ad or hearing about it. It kind of sounds like 4Kids fumbled the ball with this opportunity too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah it really does. I dunno what they were thinking talking up this movie so much only to barely deliver with it. I mean, maybe some of that was on the shoulders of the original studios because they may have thought they were getting this epic feature length film that would have changed the game or been a big event only to find out it was really not even an hour long and didn’t even do that well in Japan, so they backtracked a bit. I mean, there’s only so much they can do with the material they get. Some things like this are just so confusing with 4Kids, like with Toonzaki or Capsule Monsters – making things that are seemingly big deals only to just spit them out and then pretty much ignore them.

      I also never saw this movie. I think I heard of it, but I wasn’t that much into the third Gen of YGO (I was still playing the game, but I wasn’t actively watching the show) so I probably didn’t think much of it. I think I might have heard a tiny bit of chatter about it online but that was about it. If it was such a limited release, I probably thought even less of it because I live in nowheresville where things are never close to me and I probably never had a chance to see it in theaters anyway lol And since it never was released on DVD (and possibly not TV either?) I probably forgot all about it quickly. What a fun concept that really seems like it was fumbled on all sides. Konami could have done something similar but so much bigger for the 20th anniversary, but that was a missed opportunity too. (Even if they did release a really sweet TCG box set of various decks based on the gens throughout the years, there was no big anime event as far as I know.)

      Liked by 1 person

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