Today, Idris Elba is helping to cancel the apocalypse on niche streaming services. Not that Crunchyroll much needed the Hollywood superstar’s help — the anime streaming platform recently crossed the four million subscriber mark, a feat that can only be matched by its biggest ever deal: an Afrofuturist fantasy anime series developed by Idris and Sabrina Elba.
Crunchyroll made two big announcements today: that it crossed the four million subscriber mark this month, just six months after passing the three million mark, and that it has struck a deal with Idris and Sabrina Elba to develop Dantai (working title), a dark fantasy animated series described as an “Afro-futuristic science fiction” story.
Elba and his wife are developing the series with Idris’ Green Door Pictures and Sabrina’s Pink Towel Pictures. The series “will be set in a city where the rise of biotechnology has created an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots. Two rising stars from either side of this divide are pitted against each other in a story that will ultimately explore equality and kinship within a corrupt society.”
The Elbas, whom have not been involved in an anime project of this stature previously (unless you count Idris Elba’s starring in the anime-inspired Guillermo del Toro film Pacific Rim), said in a statement: “We’re really excited to be announcing this deal on our first anime. We’re both fans of the genre and see a huge opportunity to create something unique for a powerhouse like Crunchyroll. The story of Dantai is our first collaboration as producers together and is one that is close to our hearts.”
“For more than a decade, through anime and anime-inspired Originals, Crunchyroll has been leading the charge for the popularization of adult dramatic animation and we are fast becoming the epicenter for the next generation of animation fans, as is evidenced by our incredible growth in registered users and subscribers,” said Crunchyroll general manager Joanne Waage added a statement. “Gens Y and Z have experienced superhero fatigue and are hungry for the new stories and ideas that our creators tell. This development deal with Sabrina and Idris Elba is another example of how we’re working with best-in-class partners to bring in new audiences and tell fresh and compelling stories through a medium that transcends genres and generations.”
This is the biggest partnership that Crunchyroll has ever landed, and it comes soon after Sony’s Funimation acquired the company for $1.175 billion, which has appeared to only be a boon for the global anime brand. Crunchyroll’s success makes a good case that there is for sure a place for niche streaming platforms, though anime isn’t so much a niche genre as it is a whole lucrative market — a market that Netflix, Hulu, and other streamers are hungry to tap into. But Crunchyroll was one of the first leaders in anime streaming in the U.S., and has upped its own original content game, releasing originals like Tower of God, The God of High School, and Onyx Equinox.
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