Despite the massive worldwide popularity of Pokemon media for decades since its introduction in the ’90s – which included video games, trading cards, television series, animated movies, and all kinds of toys – there has yet to be a live-action movie based on the beloved pocket monsters, though not for lack of trying. Earlier this year, a number of major studios were reported to be in a bidding war for the rights to a live-action Pokemon movie. But it wasn’t until Nintendo and mobile game developer Niantic began the worldwide rollout of augmented reality game Pokemon GO that there was real progress in terms of fans getting to see the colorful creatures in live-action on the big screen.
Initially, there were reports that Legendary Pictures was nearing a deal with The Pokemon Company for the movie rights, with a rumor shortly following that Chronicle and American Ultra screenwriter Max Landis would be penning the script. However, it was later announced that Legendary secured the live-action film rights to Pokemon and they would be developing a movie following Detective Pikachu, with which Landis has no involvement. Now, Landis discusses his Pokemon pitch and why it won’t be coming to screens around the world.
In an interview with Screen Rant about his numerous projects – including comic series Green Valley and upcoming TV series Dirk Gently – Landis gives us the basic setup for the world in which his Pokemon movie would have been set. The film would have focused on a kid named Red, whose mother was a former master Pokemon trainer – but before the movie starts, she had a falling out with her team that led to Red feeling resentful toward the pocket monsters. Summing up what would have been his Pokemon film, Landis says:
“It’s an extremely emotional, really cool movie that I’m sad won’t exist, but I’m very curious to see if Pikachu solves that case.”
Further commenting on Legendary’s Detective Pikachu movie, Landis jokes, “When I think of Pikachu, I think – adjectives to describe Pikachu: analytical, driven, intense, brilliant, … no nonsense, and a mind for crime.” Plus, the screenwriter likens the film’s concept – which is likely outside the realm of what most Pokemon fans were expecting from the first live-action movie based on the pocket monsters – to other recent Hollywood features that included twists or new takes on classic franchises.
Certainly, those Pokemon fans who aren’t as excited by the Detective Pikachu movie – which is currently being fast-tracked to begin production early next year – may be intrigued by the details that Landis offers up from his pitch. Given that it includes characters named Red and Blue as well as references to Team Rocket, Landis’ film would have undoubtedly been filled with nods to classic Pokemon properties like the Red and Blue games and the ’90s animated series Pokemon: Indigo League that introduced many fans to Ash Ketchum and his Pikachu.
Still, Legendary’s Detective Pikachu is only the first live-action movie based on the property, and there is plenty of room in the vast Pokemon universe for other films. But, while Pokemon GO has reinvigorated the Pokemon property, seemingly to the point of inspiring The Pokemon Company to strike the movie deal with Legendary, it remains to be seen what Hollywood has in store for the pocket monsters.
We’ll keep you updated on Detective Pikachu as more information becomes available.