With tens of billions of dollars in total revenue, Pokémon is one of the highest-grossing media franchises in the world. That type of built-in fanbase, which spans multiple mediums and several generations, should come in handy when the franchise’s first live-action film, Detective Pikachu, hits theaters in May. If it’s a success, studio Legendary Entertainment—which has a distribution deal with Warner Bros. and has successfully developed its Godzilla-led MonsterVerse in recent years—will be looking to create Hollywood’s next beloved shared cinematic universe. Watch out, Marvel.
“[Pokemon is] such a rich universe. There are so many ways you can go inside of it. We’re trying to get the first movie right, and then once we’ve done that, we’ll see where we go from there, but absolutely. There are a lot of opportunities,” Legendary Entertainment producer Ali Mendes told IGN recently.
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The studio is already showing immense confidence in the property with a sequel currently in development. Box Office Pro notes that “Social media activity since the film’s first trailer launch has been stellar, breaking our internal Twitter tracking record with 400,000+ mentions on the day of release.” They predict its domestic opening will hit at least $75 million. Despite the heavy scheduling competition—Detective Pikachu opens in the third weekend of Avengers: Endgame and two weeks before Aladdin—some are expecting a worldwide gross in excess of $1 billion when all is said and done.
To date, there have been 19 animated movies set in the Pokémon world, six-seasons of the beloved animated kids cartoon, countless games, and a handful of specials and spinoffs. The recent mobile game Pokémon GO crossed $2 billion in revenue in late 2018 and once Pokémon Sword and Shield hits shelves later this year, there will be nearly 900 Pokémon. The franchise is basically the reason your kids never look up at the dinner table.
“Even the Pokémon themselves, there are eight hundred of them,” Mendes told the outlet. “We’re going to have a lot of them in [Pokemon: Detective Pikachu], but we want to play with all of them at some point.”
In January, We Got This Covered reported that two separate movies are in development for the franchise outside of the planned sequel, though this remains an unconfirmed rumor at this point so take it with a grain of salt.
However, taken as a whole, it’s clear that Pokémon remains a massively popular piece of intellectual property and that Detective Pikachu is primed for success. Should that be the case, expect Legendary to aggressively ramp up development on its shared cinematic universe of pocket monsters.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is written by Rob Letterman, Nicole Perlman and Derek Connolly. Letterman also served as director while Ryan Reynolds provides the titular voice. The film will hit theaters on May 10.