Unlike many fads that the 90s inflicted on the world, Pokémon is still alive and well some 21 years on from its inception. In fact, following the release of new augmented reality game Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s stock price jumped by 25% and a live-action movie is now on the fast track.
Legendary Pictures have emerged as the frontrunner to acquire the rights to a possible franchise, but according to Deadline, the deal is far from a guarantee as every major studio is now interested in the property. My lasting memories of Pokémon is watching the cartoon series on SM: TV and working in a cinema when the first movie arrived in 1999. I can tell you first hand that demand was high for the limited edition cards that were given out to moviegoers, and boy those kids got angry when we ran out.
The Pokémon craze spawned five theatrically released animated movies from 1999 to 2003; the first two grossed $163 million and $133 million respectively, but by the time the fifth movie was unleashed in 2003, audiences were all Pikachued out. You might be surprised to learn that Pokémon mania passed me by, I had friends who were really into it, but I was still trying to complete my set of Monsters in My Pockets and had no time for foolishness.
Since Legendary were bought by Dalian Wanda Group Co, the Chinese business powerhouse has been keen to acquire big properties with the intention of launching franchises. Warcraft might have flopped miserably in the US, but in China, it amassed more than $222 million and a further $150 million from the rest of the world. Pokémon certainly has the fanbase to make a live-action movie a lucrative prospect, and let’s face it, if Power Rangers can get a dark reworking with Bryan Cranston then anything is possible.