Studios enter bidding war over Pokémon live-action movie rights

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When it comes to the next big blockbuster movie franchise, Hollywood studios definitely want to catch ’em all. And now it looks like the next big target in their sights is a live-action feature film adaptation of immensely popular long-running video game franchise PokémonTHR reports that the Pokémon Co., the Japanese entity that has managed the rights to the franchise, has secretly (well, clearly not that secretly) been meeting with several studios to facilitate a possible sale of the feature film rights.

Warner Bros., Sony and Legendary are apparently the three major studios aggressively pursuing the lucrative deal, with word on the grapevine being that Legendary is currently the frontrunner in the race. But there’s unfortunately a wrinkle in their endeavours: though Legendary is a Hollywood based studio, they have recently become a division of China’s Dalian Wanda Group. The prospect of a Chinese group owning the rights to one of the biggest Japanese entertainment properties in the world may not exactly sit well with either country given their sometimes prickly political relationship.

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The fact that Legendary are already spearheading other major Japanese franchises like the new Godzilla and upcoming Kong: Skull Island movies, will of course help to pave the way, but things are still not clear. There’s also the fact that Warner Bros have already made a Pokémon movie, as they distributed the 1996 animated theatrical release as well as a brace of direct-to-TV sequels (there have been 19 movies in total though). Whomever does win the bidding auction will certainly be turning this into the next big deal.

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Begun in 1998 as a video game title for the Gameboy handheld console, that followed Ash Ketchum, a new trainer who roams the land finding, collecting and training various creatures – like the iconic Pikachu – to use in battle against other trainers in order to become the ultimate Pokemon Master. The franchise has since branched out almost exponentially with a huge library of video games, collectible trading cards and a massively popular anime series. On the video game front alone, over 279 million units have been sold since the franchise’s inception. The franchise has become such a huge mainstay in pop culture that the latest video game entry even received a trailer during this year’s Super Bowl alongside some of biggest Hollywood blockbusters.

Hollywood produced live-action adaptations of both video games and anime have had a horrible track record up until now, especially when the source material is Americanized (I’m still struggling to erase the memory of the Dragonball Z movie). On the video game adaptation front, we already have a couple of contenders to rectify that in Assassins Creed and Splinter Cellso could Pokémon also follow suit? What do you guys think?

This article originally appeared on The Movies

Last Updated: April 18, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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