While the Pokémon franchise never really went away entirely, the amazingly successful launch of new augmented reality game Pokémon Go has returned the property to a level of pop-culture ubiquity it’s not seen in many years. With millions of people currently spending their free time trying to catch ’em all, Nintendo’s stock price has rocketed up 25%, and the company’s financial outlook now looks quite rosy. Naturally, Pokémon Go’s success has led Legendary Pictures to start working overtime on a deal with Nintendo to produce a live-action Pokémon movie. While a deal is still not finalized, reports are suggesting who might be in line to write the script, if and when contracts are signed.
According to Deadline (among other sources) the seemingly always busy Max Landis – writer of Chronicle and a draft of the upcoming Power Rangers movie reboot – is being eyed to pen the script for Legendary’s potential live-action Pokemon effort. In addition to Chronicle and Power Rangers, Landis also penned last year’s American Ultra and Victor Frankenstein, and is currently working on the Will Smith fronted fantasy thriller Bright for Netflix. For those unaware, Max is the son of legendary Hollywood director John Landis, the man behind such classics as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and An American Werewolf in London. Max actually got his first screenwriting credit on a Masters of Horror episode directed by his father.
Of course, if Landis gets the job of writing a live-action Pokémon movie, the question then becomes just what creative direction the script will take. With 90s nostalgia arguably hitting its apex in 2016, it would seem a logical move for Pokémon’s venture into live-action to center on the characters from the original Pokémon animated series, which debuted in Japan in 1997 and subsequently arrived stateside in 1998. Despite multiple successor series serving to keep the franchise alive on-screen, Pokémon’s popularity in the English speaking world has never again reached the heights it enjoyed during the initial run featuring the team of Ash, Misty, and Brock hunting for new Pokémon while also trying to avoid Team Rocket villains Jesse and James.
That said, with this being Pokémon’s first venture into the live-action film realm, perhaps Landis and Legendary might decide to set their story apart by focusing on newly created characters on a never before seen Pokémon-related quest. The Pokémon universe has been established as being quite the large, varied landscape and the potential for stories to be set within it is just as varied. Either way, the iconic Pikachu has to be a main character, if only for merchandising reasons.
Pokémon’s live-action movie is reportedly in development, but has yet to be confirmed by Nintendo.