New York, New York, January 11, 2005 - Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) announced today that it will continue its long-standing successful relationship with FUNimation Productions, Ltd. through a new five-year exclusive license for the Dragon Ball franchise covering the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Under the new agreement, Atari, which has exclusively held a Dragon Ball license in those territories since 1999, will have the rights to develop interactive video games based on the Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT animated series and characters for all current and future gaming consoles and portable gaming devices, such as the Nintendo DSTM and the Sony PSPTM handheld entertainment system.
"Since launching our first product together in 2002, Atari has worked closely with FUNimation to extend the Dragon Ball brand into the interactive market and with more than 7 million units sold to date, it's clear that the momentum of the Dragon Ball phenomenon shows no signs of abating," said Jim Caparro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atari. "We have exciting plans in place to build on that momentum and usher in the next era of Dragon Ball, including products for the new wave of portable gaming devices and next-gen consoles."
"Atari connects with a brand and its fans, and as a result we have created the great video games in the Dragon Ball franchise," says Gen Fukunaga, President of FUNimation. "The Dragon Ball brand is on a roll and we look forward to even more success with Atari and the continued growth of the Dragon Ball franchise."
Atari's first Dragon Ball product - Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of GokuTM - was released in May 2002 and, according to The NPD Group, was the #3 best-selling GameBoy Advance (GBA) release that year. Since that time, the Company has released 12 Dragon Ball video games (15 SKUs), selling more than 7 million units* to date, including Dragon Ball Z: BudokaiTM, the best-selling PS2 fighting game in 2002* and 2003*, and Dragon Ball Z: BudokaiTM 2, the best-selling PS2 fighting game in 2004* (as of November 2004). Atari recently announced plans to release four new Dragon Ball titles in 2005, including Dragon Ball Z: SagasTM (Spring 2005), the franchise's much-anticipated first action title and first DBZ game for the XboxTM video game system from Microsoft, and Dragon Ball GT: TransformationTM (Summer 2005), the first all-DBGT action/adventure title for the GBA.
The Dragon Ball brand will continue to build momentum as FUNimation and its licensees relaunch the brand. Starting in April, FUNimation will release the next movie in the Dragon Ball Z series Broly: Second Coming, as well as the Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Uncut Special editions. These Ultimate Uncut Special editions feature never-before-seen footage as well as a variety of extras including an exclusive Goku vs. Vegeta Featurette with dialogue and discussions from the voice actors, media and fans. In May following the very successful Dragon Ball GT series, Dragon Ball Z will return to broadcast. FUNimation also has plans to expand the Dragon Ball brand in the Hispanic market.
Atari's Dragon Ball video game lineup is the most recent extension of the enormously popular Dragon Ball brand, which includes anime series, home videos and worldwide merchandising. The Dragon Ball series, which is the most successful anime programming ever to air in the U.S., has been one of the highest rated series on the Cartoon Network since its debut in 1998. Dragon Ball GT, which debuted in 2004 and is currently airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami block, is consistently one of the highest-rated shows on the network. Off television, as of December 2004, the Dragon Ball franchise accounted for four of the top 10 best-selling anime titles for the year, and had sold more than 20 million videos.
About FUNimation Productions, Ltd.
Focusing on providing the best in high-quality entertainment properties, FUNimation Productions, Ltd. is a full-service brand management company with in-house production, licensing, Internet and marketing departments. FUNimation is also one of the nation's leading independent home video entertainment companies. In addition to the international phenomenon Dragon Ball Z, the company also manages brands such as Dragon Ball, the prequel to the Dragon Ball Z saga; Dragon Ball GT, the long awaited sequel to Dragon Ball Z airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami block; Yu Yu Haskusho, the popular spirit detective saga also airing on the Toonami block; the mega-hit series Case Closed known in Japan as Detective Conan, currently airing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim; and many other fan favorites including Fullmetal Alchemist which debuted on Cartoon Network on November 6, 2004.
New York-based Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) develops interactive games for all platforms and is one of the largest third-party publishers of interactive entertainment software in the U.S. The Company's 1,000+ titles include hard-core, genre-defining games such as DRIV3RTM, Enter the MatrixTM, Neverwinter NightsTM, StuntmanTM, Test Drive, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Unreal Championship; and mass-market and children's games such as Backyard SportsTM, Nickelodeon's Blue's CluesTM and Dora the ExplorerTM, Dragon Ball Z and RollerCoaster Tycoon. Atari, Inc. is a majority-owned subsidiary of France-based Infogrames Entertainment SA (Euronext - ISIN: FR-0000052573), the largest interactive games publisher in Europe. For more information, visit www.atari.com.
*According to The NPD Group, Inc.