Pokémon is finding new life on the big screen with the first ever live-action film based on the “gotta catch ‘em all” franchise, EW has learned.
Legendary Entertainment and The Pokémon Company have teamed up, double-battle style, to announce the new film series. The story will follow Detective Pikachu, the recent character created through the Japanese game of the same name, with additional details kept under wraps at the moment. The video game version follows Tim Goodman, a young man who heads to Rhyme City in search of his missing father, where he meets Pikachu.
While this will be the first live-action film, the franchise has had life on the big screen in animated form, as Pokémon: The First Movie was released in the U.S. in November 1999. The hit film was followed by Pokémon: The Movie 2000, Pokémon 3: The Movie, Pokémon 4Ever, and Pokémon Heroes.
Pokémon has experienced a resurgence in the cultural zeitgeist thanks to the mobile game Pokémon Go, finally allowing trainers to catch the original Kanto pocket monsters in the real world. The series was first introduced in 1996, with 279 million video games sold worldwide, according to The Pokémon Company, 21.5 billion trading cards shipped to 74 countries, and an animated series that has run for 19 seasons to date.
Universal Pictures all handle distribution of the film outside of Japan, while The Pokémon Company’s long time movie collaborator, Toho, will handle the distribution in Japan. The film will be fast-tracked for production start in 2017.