Gkids Acquires Toei Animation Title The First Slam Dunk Based On Takehiko Inoue Manga

Gkids has snapped up North American rights to Toei Animation’s film The First Slam Dunk, an adaptation of the hugely popular Takehiko Inoue manga, which Inoue wrote and directed for the screen. The film which has already proven a smash hit in other territories, grossing over $212M globally, will hit theaters in the U.S. and Canada in both its original Japanese language and an all-new English-language dub later this summer.

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Marking Inoeu’s directorial debut, The First Slam Dunk follows Shohoku High School’s “speedster” point guard, Ryota Miyagi, who always plays with brains and lightning speed, running circles around his opponents while feigning composure. Born and raised in Okinawa, Ryota had a brother who was three years older. And following in the footsteps of his older brother, who was a famous local player from a young age, Ryota also became addicted to basketball.

In his second year of high school, Ryota plays with the Shohoku basketball team along with Sakuragi, Rukawa, Akagi and Mitsui as they take the stage at the Inter-High School National Championship. And now, they are on the brink of challenging the reigning champions, Sannoh Kogyo High School.

Becoming one of the bestselling manga series of all time in its initial publication between 1990 and 1996, The First Slam Dunk has previously been adapted to various media and video games, including a hit anime series that ran from 1993-1996. 

Toei Animation and Dandelion Animation Studio partnered on the latest iteration of the material, which has been named as the 2023 recipient of the Japan Academy Prize for Best Animation of the Year, with Toshiyuki Matsui producing. Pic’s Japanese voice cast includes Shugo Nakamura, Jun Kasama, Shinichiro Kamio, Subaru Kimura and Kenta Miyake.

“I am very thankful to our partners at Toei Animation for working together with us on what I consider one of the best sports films ever made,” said Gkids President David Jesteadt. “THE FIRST SLAM DUNK is thrilling but also deeply emotional, and it has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. We can’t wait to share the film with SLAM DUNK fans, as well as those who are discovering this work for the first time.”

Remarked Toei Animation Inc.’s President, Masayuki Endo, “We’re thrilled to work with GKIDS to bring Toei Animation’s blockbuster film THE FIRST SLAM DUNK to North America. THE FIRST SLAM DUNK has been a smash hit in Asia since premiering in Japan last December and we’re excited to see the response from U.S. and Canadian audiences when it premieres this summer.”

“I want to welcome North American fans – both new and old – to the world of SLAM DUNK,” added producer Matsui. “THE FIRST SLAM DUNK offers the unique excitement and thrills of SLAM DUNK that can only be experienced in a movie theatre.”

A producer and distributor of award-winning and artist-driven animation celebrating its 15th anniversary, Gkids has notched a total of 12 Animated Feature Oscar nominations since its founding in 2008, with titles including The Secret of KellsA Cat in ParisChico & RitaErnest & Celestine, The Tale of The Princess KaguyaSong of the SeaBoy and the WorldWhen Marnie Was ThereMy Life as a ZucchiniThe BreadwinnerMirai and Wolfwalkers. The company also handles North American distribution for the famed Studio Ghibli film library, as well as the series Neon Genesis Evangelion, and hosts the Animation Is Film festival annually in Los Angeles.

The North American deal for The First Slam Dunk, which also encompasses physical home video rights, was negotiated between Gkids and Toei Animation.

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