Picture via Crunchyroll
Several English actors from Jujutsu Kaisen 0 publicly shared their salary working on the film, shocking some fans who were unaware of the strict contract between profits and rates on any given anime dub production.
Anime News Network reported this morning that the film is approaching $30 million in total US box office earnings after its just-completed third weekend. His performances are not surprising given that he even beat Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Once Upon a Time becoming the highest-grossing film at the Japanese box office last year.
What’s more surprising, however, is how relatively poorly paid the film’s cast was.
Anime dubbing actors in the United States have spoken of their low pay in recent months as it becomes increasingly clear that anime is profitable – for business. Voice actors, however, still struggle to support themselves as independent contractors for companies like Crunchyroll and, previously, Funimation.
Voice actor Sean Chiplock raised the issue again today, saying most of the cast members of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 each only earned $150 to $300 for their work on the film.
The rates were plausible given what we now know about compensation in the anime industry, but Tara Jayne Sands – the actress perhaps best known as the voice of Bulbasaur – confirmed that she had been paid as much (or as little) for taking over the roles of Utahime Iori and Momo Nishimiya in Jujutsu Kaisen 0. The actress shared amid fear of retaliation that she was only paid $150 in sum.
Plus, as Chiplock pointed out, neither actor will even receive royalties for their success.
“I asked if they would negotiate as it was for a theatrical release and was told no,” Sands added. In a follow-up tweet, Sands said they boosted the film’s domestic box office performance as a reason to boost its rate. According to other voice actors who shared their stories with WGTC, dub actors don’t have the ability or power to negotiate their rates.
Sands was likely paid $75 an hour for two hours of recording, an informal minimum rate seen in Los Angeles due to traffic and the cost of living. The rate is still below current union rates for dubbing and well, well below voice actor rates in games, original animation and elsewhere. Anairis Quiñones, who stars as Rika in the film, added that she was paid the same rate despite being voiced by a main cast character that includes vocally intense lines.
Los Angeles-based studio Studiopolis handled production for Jujutsu Kaisen 0 dub for Crunchyroll, which distributed the film internationally.
“I don’t blame the recording studio,” Sands pointed out in a response to his original tweet, “for that because they’re given budgets they have to stick to. These changes must come from above.“
Indeed, Studiopolis has a good reputation among voice actors working today, but they don’t set the budget for a production. Production companies like Crunchyroll do it, and even voice actors and ADR directors don’t know who makes those decisions.
Last month, WGTC asked Crunchyroll how dub budgets are established and who determines them as part of our survey of anime dub actors’ salary in the United States, but the company did not respond. Company silence extended until later union coverage from Anime News Network as well.
We Got This Covered has reached out to Crunchyroll for comment.