Pokémon are beloved video-game creatures, the heroes of wildly popular card games, television shows and animated films, and next year these Japanese Pocket Monsters are getting a live-action movie: Warner Bros. Pictures’ Pokémon Detective Pikachu, in theaters May 11, 2019.
It’s hard to overstate how excited people are about this film, which will feature Pikachu, voiced by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, playing the role of an experienced member of law enforcement trying to solve some kind of hard-boiled mystery. As of right now, Detective Pikachu is the only credible underdog contender in what’s sure to be a captivating box office race next year.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Warner Bros. released the first trailer for Detective Pikachu on the same day that the teaser for Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4 hit the internet. Toy Story 4 isn’t coming out until next June, but it isn’t the only movie that will be competing with Pokémon for the highest grossing movie of the summer.
2019 is so jam-packed with blockbusters it’ll be a miracle if any one film far outstrips the rest in terms of box office returns. And when the playing field is so crowded, competitors with a lot at stake (for example, the good graces of their investors) will do anything to get ahead. This apparently warrants a pissing contest between the biggest and most lucrative studios in Hollywood, as evidenced not only by the trailer drop, but by Pikachu’s slated opening date.
Pikachu’s May 11 release also falls smack dab in the middle of two of the hugest Disney-affiliated openings of 2019. Marvel’s as-yet untitled fourth Avengers film (which is pivotal to the franchise, because we still don’t know which characters who were murdered in Avengers: Infinity War will be coming back to life) is out on May 3. Then Disney’s live-action Aladdin remake is slated to be released on May 24.
In other words, Detective Pikachu, a live-action adaptation of a beloved story with CGI elements, is being released within weeks of two other live-action adaptations of beloved stories with CGI elements.
Avengers 4 and Aladdin will both certainly make a lot of money and solidify Disney’s hold on the market, but Warner Bros.’ Detective Pikachu shouldn’t be dismissed as a capable big screen contender.
When it comes down to it, people love Pokémon with an unbridled passion that should worry anyone who thinks superhero movies are the only things audiences are interested in.