There has been a bedlam of speculation around the quality of movie that is expected from the proposed live action Pokémon movie: will it depict hardened realistic monsters to the level of the upcoming Warcraft Movie? Or will it crash and burn like Hollywood’s white-washed Dragonball Z? I want the former and Nintendo would also.
It’s no secret that Nintendo owns a large stake in the Pokémon Company which currently controls the movie rights for the franchise. Even as I punch the keys on my keyboard, [I imagine] there are movie executives in power suits one upping each other in a closed meeting room trying reach any agreement to purchase the movie rights. Who could blame them? Pokémon is a worldwide phenomenon that captivates children and adults alike, so a Pokémon movie would potentially garner hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from movie goers. This, coupled with the possibility of a movie franchise (since the end goal of the film industry is money, and franchises equal money) has large name studios chomping at the bit for a piece of the action.
As far as the buzz goes, there are currently three big names vying for the movie rights: Sony, Warner Bros, and Legendary studios.
Nintendo will be directly involved so this works to rule out some possibilities when considering which film studio will take the reins on the live action project. Sony is in direct competition with the house of Mario, pitting the Wii U and PS4 against one another for domination of the gaming console market, so it would work in Nintendo’s favor to keep its most profitable franchise from being handled by one of its biggest competitors. Sorry, Sony, maybe you’ll have better luck cashing in on another Spider-man reboot.
Incidentally that would leave Legendary and Warner Bros. to compete in the Pokémon arena. What we do know is that Warner Bros has already produced several animated Pokémon movies in the past decade and a half, starting with Pokémon the First Movie, a movie that made Mewtwo a powerhouse fan- favorite and grossed $163.6 million worldwide. Warner Bros having had experience with handling Pokémon property successfully in the past could tip the scale in their favor.
Of course there is the question whether Warner Bros has the ability to handle the live action version of a Pokémon movie to the same if not better scale of Legendary’s own Godzilla, Jurassic World and potentially the upcoming Warcraft movie release. Considering Legendary’s reception of Godzilla and Jurassic World’s CGI, I would have high hopes that if the Pokémon live action movie were to fall into their hands, it would be well taken care of. However, given Legendary’s recent acquisition by China’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. for 3.5 billion earlier this year, there is speculation circling that Legendary might get turned away because of political tensions between Japan and China. According to Hollywood Reporter,
“There have been long simmering political tensions between Beijing and Tokyo, which most recently peaked with Japan’s criticism of China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. Those pressures have also led to a cultural strain between the two countries in which China effectively banned Japanese films for three years, which was only recently broken.”
In spite of these tensions, Legendary studios is still said to be the likely victor in the bidding war for the Pokémon movie rights. Considering that Legendary is owned by the largest film entertainment company in the world, Dalian Wanda Group Co (which also recently acquired the AMC movie chain), Warner Bros. will face an uphill battle to match the purchasing power of Legendary.
Personally I’m expecting Legendary to claim victory on this bid and the sooner the bidding process comes to a close the sooner we will be treated to what I hope will be a great re-imagining of even greater childhood memories.