Several English cast members of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 have publicly shared their pay from working on the film, shocking some fans who were unaware of the stark contract between profits and rates on any given anime dub production.
Anime News Network reported this morning that the film is approaching almost $30 million in total U.S. box office revenue following its just-completed third weekend. Its performance is a bit unsurprising considering it even beat out Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time to become the highest-grossing film for Japan’s Box office last year.
What’s more surprising, however, is how relatively little the film’s cast was paid.
Anime dub actors in the U.S. have been speaking out about their low pay in recent months as it becomes more and more clear that anime is profitable — for corporations. Voice actors, however, are still struggling to support themselves as independent contractors to companies like Crunchyroll and, previously, Funimation.
Voice actor Sean Chiplock raised the issue again today, claiming that most of the cast members of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 each made just $150 to $300 for their work on the film.
The rates were plausible given what we now know about pay in the anime industry, but Tara Jayne Sands — the actress perhaps best known as the voice of Bulbasaur — confirmed that she was paid as much (or as little) for reprising the roles of Utahime Iori and Momo Nishimiya in Jujutsu Kaisen 0. The actress shared amid fear of reprisal that she was paid just $150 in sum.
What’s more, as Chiplock pointed out, is that none of the cast will even see royalties for its success.
“I asked if they would negotiate since it was for theatrical release and was told no,” Sands added. In a follow-up tweet, Sands said that they raised the film’s domestic box office performance as a reason to increase her rate. According to other voice actors who shared their stories with WGTC, dub actors have no room or power to negotiate their rates.
Sands was likely paid $75 an hour for two hours of recording, an informal minimum rate observed in L.A. due to traffic and costs of living. The rate is still below the current union rates for dubbing and far, far below the rates of voice actors in games, original animation, and elsewhere. Anairis Quiñones, who stars in the film as Rika, added that she was paid the same rate despite voicing a character in the main cast that includes vocally strenuous lines.
L.A.-based studio Studiopolis handled the production of Jujutsu Kaisen 0’s dub for Crunchyroll, which distributed the film internationally.
“I am not blaming the recording studio,” Sands emphasized in a reply to her original tweet, “for this since they are given budgets that they must stick to. These changes need to come from the top.“
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, and even voice actors and ADR directors don’t know who is making those decisions.
Last month WGTC asked Crunchyroll how dub budgets are set and who determines them as part of our investigation into the pay of anime dub actors in the U.S., but the company didn’t get back to us with an answer. The company’s silence extended to later coverage of unionization from Anime News Network as well.
We Got This Covered has reached out to Crunchyroll for comment.