Sony, Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures battle for Pokémon movie rights

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The Hollywood Reporter reports on secret auction for film rights
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  • Friday, April 15, 2016

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According to a report posted on The Hollywood Reporter, The Pokémon Company is planning an auction for the Pokémon movie rights, which has led to a massive bidding war between several film studios.

According to the report, American film studios Warner Bros. Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment have expressed interest in possessing the film rights. However, the report mentions that another potential bidder, film financing firm Legendary Pictures, may come out as the potential victor of the bidding war, despite a representative for Legendary declining talks of an offer being put on the table.

Legendary Entertainment's filmography includes box office blockbusters like 300, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Pacific Rim, and the 2014 reboot of Godzilla. Last year, Legendary scored big with the box office behemoth Jurassic World and the critically-acclaimed drama biopic Straight Outta Compton at Universal Studios, who currently has a five-year motion picture financing/distribution agreement with Legendary beginning in 2014.

However, Legendary's position in the bidding war isn't without controversy. In January 2016, the firm was bought by Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group for $3.5 billion. This could pose problems as Pokémon is a Japanese property, and Japan and China have had deep-rooted social tensions for centuries.

Warner Bros. had previously helped release the first three Pokémon movies based off the anime in the United States and other territories outside Japan, despite having no involvement in their production.

Rumors of Sony Pictures being interested in the Pokémon property have circulated since April 2015, when leaked e-mail discussions from studio executives revealed interest by the studio in making films based off Nintendo properties, including Pokémon.

All three bidding parties declined to comment.