While Legendary Pictures has been after the live-action film rights to the Pokemon franchise for months now, their interest in locking down a deal reportedly got much higher following the early July release of mobile AR game Pokemon Go and the nationwide craze it quickly spawned.
Recent rumors have also suggested that Chronicle’s Max Landis was being considered by the studio to write a potential live-action Pokemon movie, should negotiations come to fruition. Well, thanks to a new report, one of those developments has now been officially confirmed.
According to THR, Legendary has finalized an agreement with Pokemon’s Japanese-based rights holder The Pokemon Company to produce live-action movies based on the arguably more popular than ever franchise. The first film to come out of this new partnership will be Detective Pikachu, based on the point-and-click adventure game Great Detective Pikachu for the Nintendo 3DS.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it casts the player in the role of human assistant to the titular character, a Pikachu with above-average intelligence who has become a self-styled private investigator. Details on the film’s plot or what elements it will adapt from the Detective Pikachu game have yet to be revealed, although production is being fast-tracked to start in 2017.
As with many of Legendary Pictures’ films, Universal is set to handle U.S. distribution of Detective Pikachu, with Toho taking care of Japanese distribution. Universal will also distribute the film internationally, in countries other than Japan. Toho is a long-time collaborator with The Pokemon Company, having distributed prior animated Pokemon movies in Japan dating back to the franchise’s creation in the 1990s. Toho also has an established relationship with Legendary, who it partnered with to create the 2014 American version of Godzilla.
While it’s unsurprising that Pokemon Go’s success has led to the quick confirmation of a live-action Pokemon movie, it seems fair to say that Detective Pikachu was probably not the first aspect of the franchise most fans expected to be adapted for the big-screen. Still, from a marketing standpoint, it makes a lot of business sense to focus the film around Pikachu, easily the most iconic creature on the Pokemon roster. However, one wonders how closely the Detective Pikachu movie will stick to its source material, and whether or not fans will start another petition to try and get the cuddly character voiced by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Danny Devito.
Legendary’s live-action Detective Pikachu movie is expected to begin production in 2017.