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Thursday, May 25, 2023 

Live action Saint Seiya adaptation disappoints at the USA box office

It's been at least 2 weeks or so since the live action adaptation of Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya manga opened in the USA for starters (under the western title Knights of the Zodiac), and based on what Anime News Network reports, it looks like the film's quite a bummer:
Knights of the Zodiac, the live-action film of Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya manga, has earned an estimated US$920,071 at the box office in its second weekend in the United States.

The film screened in 588 theaters, and earned an estimated US$42,000 on Friday, US$70,000 on Saturday, and US$48,000 on Sunday. Box Office Mojo lists the film with a current worldwide gross of US$5,516,063.

The film opened in the the U.S. on May 12. It earned an estimated US$535,000, ranking at #11 in the box office in its opening weekend in the U.S.
Now that's under a million dollars it's made so far stateside, and to be sure, there's several thousand movie complexes across the USA, so to screen it in less than 600 suggests this is more of a low-budget movie by today's standards, something not immediately obvious when it'd barely even been released yet. Also note how it's only made a few million globally to date too. Hence, why there's so few reviews available on Rotten Tomatoes so far, and those that're there (only 19 as of this writing) are largely negative, resulting in a 26% grading to date. Those who've panned it seem quite disappointed with the special effects, including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, if we were to highlight an example of those who find CGI alienating:
Adapting anime (or manga) to live-action rarely works well, especially with fantasy or science fiction stories. They inevitably become burdened by the special effects they need to translate fantastical elements to the point that story, characters, pacing, and everything else fall by the wayside. And the CGI hardly ever looks impressive in a live-action world.

This is the case for "Knights of the Zodiac," which needs a hefty amount of CGI to bring cosmo and magic armor to life, albeit unconvincingly. Undoubtedly, digital artists poured their blood, sweat, and tears into this project to bring it to life, but the deck was stacked against them.
At this point in time, it figures, seeing how we've reached a point where there's less concern about acting talent and more about how great the special effects are, or, there's far too much obsession with making live action science fantasy fare instead of character dramas. Yet if the way this movie's been marketed to date is any indication, it's otherwise low budget, and how could you expect the CGI alone to be the most impressive when it's all been marketed in as muted a fashion as it's been, and may not even have been screened directly for critics?

I seriously hope this adaptation will discourage further adaptations of manga/anime creations, no matter the genres involved, because it's long been clear Hollywood's not the place for them anyway. And despite what's been noted about Toei studios being discussion about possible sequels, let's hope they too realize it's just not worth it to proceed with any.

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