Slowing disc sales hit Japan toons

Toei Animation foresees 28% drop in profit

TOKYO — A survey of Japanese toon houses found a cloudy profit picture for this year amid generally slowing DVD sales.

Leader Toei Animation, responsible for the iconic “Dragonball,” “Sailor Moon” and “Digimon” series, foresees a 28% drop in pretax profit to ¥2.7 billion ($22.3 million) for the current fiscal year, according to the survey by the Nikkei newspaper. Toei blames softening sales of high-profit-margin DVDs for the slump.

Another major player, Bandai Visual, expects pretax profit to edge down 3% to $39.7 million, though it blames the drop on slower music sales. Bandai is responsible, as producer and distrib, for a huge number of anime titles, including the “Gundam,” “Macross” and “Cardcaptor Sakura” series.

On the brighter side, TMS Entertainment, whose pics include entries in the hit “Detective Conan” series, foresees a 19% gain in pretax profit, to $15.7 million, though the gains will come from its AG Square arcade facilities rather than its toon titles, whose sales have been flat.

Also expecting to see better results this year is GDH, whose Gonzo production house had a theatrical hit last year with the fantasy “Brave Story.” The improvements will come from cost cuts, not toon royalty sales, which remain in a slump.

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