Detective Pikachu is positioned as one of Warner Bros.' major tentpoles for this year, but how much did it cost to make? At long last, decades after it first became wildly popular, the Pokémon franchise is making the leap to live-action cinema. Based on marketing materials, Detective Pikachu has the potential to be a Who Framed Roger Rabbit for this generation, as it provides a lighthearted and entertaining spin on noir tropes as the titular sleuth and his human partner Tim (Justice Smith) look to solve a compelling mystery.
Given Pokémon's global following, it wasn't surprising when word got out WB was envisioning Detective Pikachu as the beginning of a new film franchise. The studio is already putting the pieces together for a direct sequel, and they're also hoping to turn this into a full-blown shared universe. Of course, the first movie out of the gate needs to be a hit in order for that to happen, and WB spared no expense when it came to producing their latest would-be blockbuster.
Detective Pikachu's reported budget is approximately $150 million. This is in the ballpark of some recent superhero movies like Captain Marvel ($152 million) and Aquaman ($160 million), giving viewers an idea of what kind of aspirations WB has for Pikachu. It's not a Marvel or DC adaptation, but the studio wants it to be on that level.
Of course, $150 million isn't exactly cheap, but it seems like a reasonable amount to spend on this movie. As stated above, Pokémon is a widely-known and recognizable property, which means it has a built-in audience that will turn up to support it at the box office. The movie also has cross-generational appeal, tapping into nostalgia for those who have fond memories of the franchise's 1990s heyday. Even with Avengers: Endgame continuing to earn money at an incredible rate (surging past the $2 billion mark already), Detective Pikachu seems like a safe bet commercially. Its break even point is around $300 million worldwide, and it should be able to pass that without too many problems.
Helping matters is the fact Detective Pikachu looks to have lived up to its promise and has earned positive word-of-mouth. While early reviews and reactions indicate the film has something of a standard story, the inventive world-building and CGI Pokémon antics more than make up for it. Detective Pikachu is seen by many as a fun, bonkers ride that's worth making a trip o the theater to see. With that in mind, WB will (hopefully) recoup their investment in no time at all.
- Detective Pikachu (2019) release date: May 10, 2019