Pokemon’s 20th Anniversary Sparks Bidding War Between Studios over Rights to a Live-Action Pokemon Movie
Two decades ago in 1996, Japanese video game designer Satoshi Tajiri launched Pokemon Red and Blue for the Gameboy, and the world was changed forever. Now, on Pokemon’s 20th anniversary, what started as a fun collecting based video game has grown into a media empire, with anime series, manga, at least nineteen animated films, card games, action figures, video games on all Nintendo platforms from the handheld Gameboy (and Gameboy successors) to the Nintentdo DS and 3DS and all Nintendo consoles from the N64 up through the GameCube, Wii and Wii U, and Poke-products in just about any other form or format you can think of. And over the years, the Pokemon themselves have multiplied as well, from a humble 151 Pokemon in the original games, to an evergrowing Poke-mmunity of 722, with the most addition to the Poke-dex recent being a man-made Pokemon whose species has yet to be officially revealed.
And yet, despite the continuous realease of Poke-tacular Poke-products unleashed over the years, there is still one medium they have not Poke-conquered. And that is a live-action Pokemon film. However, it appears the live-action film won’t be able to hold out for much longer against the Poke-onslaught. On this, Pokemon’s 20th anniversary, three major studios, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Legendary Entertainment have started a bidding war for the Poke-rights to make a live-action Pokemon movie.
According to The Hollywood Reporter and others, Legendary Entertainment appears to have the upper hand in the bidding war. However, many feel that Warner Brothers may still have a solid chance of winning the rights, as they handled North American distribution for the first animated Pokemon film, Pokemon: The First Movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back. And, of course, Sony has mountains of cash, so they definitely shouldn’t be counted out.
And for those that think Pokemon’s time has passed, this year will see the release of the latest Pokemon games, Pokemon Sun and Moon, the release of the new augmented reality game Pokemon Go!, and the re-release of the games that started it all, Pokemon Blue, Red and Yellow. Over the years, more than 275 million copies of the video games alone have been sold, and according to Pokemon’s official website, they have a current market size of roughly $41 billion between all their properties.
Do you think (if the movie actually happens) Ash Ketchum will be kept as a protagonist or will the producers create a new one? And what about the baddies? Would Team Rocket’s Jessie and James be as villainous in the movie as they are in the anime? As a final note, for those wondering just what a live-action Pokemon movie might look like, the recent 20th Anniversary Pokemon commercial that aired during Superbowl gave an intriguing glimpse:
And though the major studios are finally getting involved, there have been more than a few live action trailers and concepts pulled together by fans.
My personal favorite non-official Poke-video? The Honest Trailer for Pokemon Red and Blue:
So, what do you think? Is the time right for Pokemon to invade the live-action realm? And though it’s basically a given they’ll go with CGI, do you thing animatronic Pokemon would work?