First of all, let me open this article with a mea culpa; back when I posted a quick reaction piece to the announcement that Tamako market would be resolving its romance arc vis-a-vis a movie, I mentioned that the late-night anime series with the next-lowest sales average to get an anime announced later was Bodacious Space Pirates at 7337. This was incorrect; Blood-C put up a 1577 average, though its movie, The Last Dark, was announced before the TV series even aired (meaning sales couldn’t have been a part of the decision-making process at that point).
This also represents an opportunity to spot-check one of the key assertions I made in that post – that it would be possible for Tamako Market to tap a larger, less-enthusiastic fanbase that might be more willing to spend 80,000 yen than they were to spend 300,000 yen. When anime is freely available via TV and streaming, it’s easy for people to finish shows, but not 100% of the people who finish a show want to buy it. And setting price points isn’t about making sure 100% of those people buy it, but about balancing the income per sale with total number of sales for maximum profit. However, that does mean that when an installment of a franchise comes out costing significantly less money, more people can often be expected to buy it. The K-on movie sold about 3.5 times as much disks as season 2 averaged.
It turns out this principle can apply to the lower end of the cost spectrum as well. In addition to raking in just over 67 million yen at the box office, Blood-C sold 4521+1362= 5883 total disks, also a little over 3.5 times the series’ average. With DVD and BD MSRPs at 7000 yen and 9000 yen, that means it brought in roughly 4521*4500+1362*3500=25,000,000 yen, after retailer take. Depending on the movie budget, that might have been enough money to make the movie project pretty close to break-even.
Movies of a franchise don’t always sell more than the TV series. Star Driver went from a TV series that sold 9000 disks per volume to a movie that sold about 6500 disks of the movie and made only slightly more than Blood-C (~80 million yen) at the box office. Bodacious Space Pirates’ recent movie failed to make the box office top 10. I’m not trying to say that every series has hidden riches waiting to be unearthed at lower price tiers associated with movies and OVAs. That demand curve is going to look different for every series. Bodacious Space Pirates is an instructive example of a series whose fanbase is almost entirely made up of disk buyers, as the TV anime may well have averaged more than the light novels typically do in their release weeks; volume 10’s July 11 release failed to chart in a week where the threshold was 6260 copies.
Recognizing when a series’ demand curve favors more-affordable shorter-form content is a tricky task that industry people spend a lot of time working on. I certainly don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of how every individual fanbase operates. I just think it’s important to point out that there are some demand curves which favor movie (and OVA) production for anime which are unsuccessful as TV shows, and some that don’t.