“Pokémon Go” is taking over the world. It looks like the app is already more popular than Tinder and Twitter, and Nintendo’s stock is up by nearly 25%. The next step, of course, is a movie.
The movie industry is all over it. Word broke earlier this year that Legendary, Warner Bros., and Sony were in a bidding war for the rights to make a Pokémon movie. Now, after the success of “Pokemon Go,” it looks like Legendary won out. We’re going to get a Hollywood-made Pokémon flick.
This won’t be the first Pokémon feature film — it will be the 20th. Over the years, Toho, a Japanese movie company, has been making animated movies. Most of them have been in theatres in Japan, where they usually do extraordinarily well at the box office.
Only the first four Pokémon movies played in theatres in the United States, and all of Hollywood thought they were pretty weird.
The studios didn’t really understand the Pokémon world well enough to make sure the movies stayed in pop culture, even if the games did. Warner Bros. licensed the movies from Toho and The Pokémon Company. The first four premiered in the US between 1999 and 2002, to quickly diminishing returns. “Pokémon: The First Movie” made $85.7 million at the United States box office, but “Pokémon 4Ever” made only $2 million. Those numbers dashed any plans of a Hollywood studio investing hundreds of millions of dollars into an expensive, special-effects heavy feature film. Warner Bros just released the movies on television and on DVD and continued to distribute the television show that tied into the plot of the films.
Besides, adults didn’t really understand Pokémon. Pokémon exist in a bizarre world involving capturing and battling animal-like monsters. The movies came with weird, unwieldy titles: “Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back”, “Pokémon: The Movie 2000 – The Power of One”, “Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unkown”, and “Pokémon 4Ever – Celebi: Voice of the Forest.” After your parent sits through one, of them, it’s very hard to convince them to take you to another one.
There were also bizarre reports that the TV show caused seizures. A 1998 Variety article reported that “hundreds of viewers nationwide contracted mysterious video induced seizures … about 700 people went into convulsions and 200 landed in emergency rooms after watching an episode of the popular program.”
Now with the mega success of the “Pokémon Go” game, it’s clear that Hollywood has turned around.
Three of the world’s biggest movie studios just battled for the rights to make a Pokémon movie. Between the internet’s nostalgia for Pokémon and the success of “Pokémon Go,” Hollywood has all the proof it needs to bring people more Pokémon.
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