When a major movie flops, its creators will often admit that it was terrible or express regret over certain aspects of it, as with Gods of Egypt’s whitewashed cast and Rooney Mara’s role in Pan. But rarely do they offer a giant apology for their entire movie.
Now, seven years after Dragonball Evolution flopped in theaters, its writer is doing just that.
Ben Ramsey wrote the 2009 film based on the beloved Dragonball manga and anime, but fans savaged it upon its release, slamming its incoherent plot, accusing it of ruining the manga’s characters, and condemning its whitewashed cast—an example of racebending before The Last Airbender coined the term a year later.
The film marked a low point for both Dragonball fans and live-action anime adaptations, but it remained an important part of Dragonball history. Derek Padula, the creator of the fan film Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope, is writing a book about the franchise, and for his chapter dedicated to Dragonball Evolution, he reached out to Ramsey to get his side of the story.
Padula wanted an interview, but he ended up getting a heartfelt apology from Ramsey that offered an honest look at how the film industry works—often in ways that fans don’t understand.
In the apology, Ramsey took the blame after trying to deflect it for years, admitting that he took the job for the paycheck and not because he was a fan. Padula noted that Ramsey left social media after the fallout from the movie and stopped reading fan mail because of the backlash.
“I knew that it would eventually come down to this one day. Dragonball Evolution marked a very painful creative point in my life. To have something with my name on it as the writer be so globally reviled is gut wrenching. To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. I spent so many years trying to deflect the blame, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the written word on page and I take full responsibility for what was such a disappointment to so many fans. I did the best I could, but at the end of the day, I ‘dropped the dragon ball.’
I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise but as a businessman taking on an assignment. I have learned that when you go into a creative endeavor without passion you come out with sub-optimal results, and sometimes flat out garbage. So I’m not blaming anyone for Dragonball but myself. As a fanboy of other series, I know what it’s like to have something you love and anticipate be so disappointing.
I hope I can make it up to you by creating something really cool and entertaining that you will like and that is also something I am passionate about. That’s the only work I do now.
Ramsey didn’t make Dragonball Evolution alone, but his apology might serve as some solace to fans who saw their beloved series ruined by the film.
Your turn, M. Night Shyamalan.