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Universal to release worldwide outside Japan
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Multiple media outlets have confirmed that Legendary Pictures has won the rights to a live-action Pokémon movie and is set to begin production on it next year.
The film, produced by the studio behind The Dark Knight Trilogy and Jurassic World, is set to follow the escapades of Detective Pikachu, taking cues from the Nintendo 3DS game that was released in Japan back in February, according to Deadline Hollywood's Mike Fleming, Jr. It is also implied that The Pokémon Company will be creatively involved in the film as well.
The film is expected to be the first of a potential film franchise.
A live-action Pokémon movie had been rumored since last April, when reports of a bidding war for the Pokémon live-action movie rights came out. No official report confirmed that the movie was being considered until today's news.
There is no further information about the film's production, though there are talks that screenwriter Max Landis, son of director John Landis and writer of Chronicle for Fox, is negotiating to write the screenplay, according to Fleming.
Universal Pictures is confirmed to release the movie in all territories except Japan, where Toho will handle distribution. Universal has had a five year co-financing and distribution agreement with Legendary since 2014, though whether or not Universal will participate in the film's financing remains unclear.
The victory for both Legendary and Universal is a major blow for Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures Entertainment, both of whom were alleged to be major players for the rights as well. Warner Bros., who in April was reported to have "aggressively" pursued the rights, helped distribute the first three Pokémon films based off the anime worldwide during the franchise's early years, but dropped the rights in 2001 after the underperformance of the third movie.
In terms of movies based off video games, Warner has mostly sat out of the genre after their former sister studio, New Line Cinema, released the critically-lambasted Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in 1997, more than a decade before Warner took over the studio. (On a side note, Warner acquired the Mortal Kombat intellectual property from Midway Games in 2009 after the latter filed for bankruptcy that year.)
Sony, whose past in adapting video games into movies has been checkered with both the Resident Evil film series and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, recently found box office success with The Angry Birds Movie, based off the mobile game, and is currently trying their hands on a film based off Sega's video game character Sonic the Hedgehog, reportedly slated for a 2018 release.
A release date for the film has not been announced.