Fun With Numbers: Thoughts On the Tamako Market Movie

Correction: Blood-C had a lower average (1577) than any of the series mentioned below, though its movie was announced in advance of the TV show.

So Tamako Market is getting a movie, and fairly soon (this April), at that. I’m nothing but excited at this news; of the shows that aired last winter, Tamako Market was probably my favorite. It had a colorful cast, a very nice soundtrack, and an adorably chubby, pompous bird. But the fact that it’s getting a continuation is a bit striking, in light of recent history.

The final average for Tamako Market’s per volume sales clocked in at about 3624, above the 3000 pvs benchmark but considerably below the sales levels of other franchises that got movies while averaging TV ratings of less than 3% (i.e. excluding Pretty Cure, One Piece/battle series in general, and Lupin III). From 2005-2012, the next lowest-selling series to get movies were Bodacious Space Pirates (7337), Hanasaku Iroha (8576), and Star Driver (9075). All the others sold in excess of 10,000 copies per volume. That’s a pretty huge gap – the next-lowest series in that group sold roughly twice as much!

So why is it getting a movie? I can think of at least two plausible explanations:

One: Kyoto Animation is secure enough financially and are doing a low-upside project for the fun/passion of it.

This is fairly reasonable. Chuu2koi (~15,000) and Free (25,000+/-5000) were huge hits, and both are getting second seasons that will almost certainly replicate their earlier successes. If you figure that Kyoto Animation can continue to churn out original hits (technically from their novel farm system, but w/e) at the rate they’ve been at since the post-Nichijou era, they can easily tank the budget of an extra series per year so long as they milk the ones that do become hits. This isn’t like Kouji Kajita running Gonzo into a ditch with nothing but passion projects from 2004-2006; those guys made far more shows and never put a series above 10,000 pvs before Kajita left by the seat of his pants in 2007 to found David Production. Kyoto Animation is 3 for 5 with putting their series above 6000 copies per volume since Hyouka, and can absorb a lot more in the way of losses from less successful franchises.

Two: This is an effort to tap into a less enthusiastic, but larger, fanbase for the series.

Tamako itself didn’t do that badly; its average is in the 70th percentile for anime sold from 2005-2012. Too, movies cost less to own than whole TV series. Compare the 9240 yen MSRP of the K-on movie with the 8400 yen MSRP of each of the 9 volumes of the same franchise’s season 2. While the second season of K-on was an unmitigated success, the TV volumes sold an average of ~39,000 disks per volume, the movie sold a grand total of over 140,000 disks (108,000 BDs+33,000 DVDs). That’s about 3.5 times as much. Add in the fact that you can also rake in some movie ticket profits for a much lower price, and the potential is definitely there for a movie to take advantage of a large but less enthusiastic fanbase. If they end up spending about 50 million yen to make the movie (you can make a movie on that; it’s double the cost of 5 Centimeters Per Second) while getting about half the price of the movies back in gross profit (adjusting for retailer take), they’d only need to sell about 11,000 copies to break even before accounting for ticket sales. If they get the same 3.5x increase in buyers K-On did due to the “reduced” price, that amounts to about 12,500 copies. Of course, this is a prediction that assumes things stay constant with scale, but it’s plausible to me that someone in the production committee looked at similar numbers and decided the project was worth a shot.*

In any event, it’ll be very interesting to see how the box office and hardcopy runs of Tamako Love Story pan out. Almost as fun as it will be to see the actual movie.

*Similar adage to Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta; this doesn’t mean it’ll work, just that somebody thinks it can work. I think it’s close; I’d bet against it at even odds and on it at 2:1 odds.

3 thoughts on “Fun With Numbers: Thoughts On the Tamako Market Movie

  1. Pingback: Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Wake Up, Girls and Nou-Rin | Animetics

  2. Pingback: Fun With Numbers: The (Relatively) Predictable Light Novel Adaptation Market | Animetics

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