Approximately two decades after it began to take the world by storm, Pokemon is arguably the most popular it's ever been since that late 1990s period. The mobile game Pokemon Go was a rousing success, the Nintendo 3DS games Pokémon Sun and Moon were recently released and the anime series is (unbelievably) still airing on TV. On top of all that, it was officially announced over the summer that a live action Pokemon movie is in the works, and now the man who directed Goosebumps has been hired to helm the feature.
Legendary Entertainment has announced that they've tapped Rob Letterman to direct the new Pokemon movie, which will be based on the Great Detective Pikachu video game. He will work off a script written by Guardians of the Galaxy's Nicole Perlman and Gravity Falls' Alex Hirsch. Toho will handle the movie's distribution in Japan, while Universal Pictures will handle those same duties everywhere else in the world.
For more than a decade, Rob Letterman has spent his career in the world of family-friendly movies. His previous directing credits include Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens (which he also co-wrote) and Gulliver's Travels. Most recently, he directed Goosebumps, which was based on R.L. Stein's long-running series of child-friendly horror books and and also reunited him with Jack Black. Along with the Detective Pikachu movie, Letterman also has Goosebumps 2 on the horizon, and he's also reportedly been hired to direct the new Dungeons & Dragons movie.
Instead of looking to the anime series for inspiration, Rob Letterman's live action Pokemon movie is taking its cue from Great Detective Pikachu, the video game (which has yet to be released in the United States) that follows a wise-cracking, super-intelligent talking Pikachu who wears a deerstalker hat and solves Pokemon-related mysteries Sherlock Holmes-style. This electrically-charged critter is accompanied by a boy named Tim Goodman, and together they go on whacky adventures. Presumably this movie will follow the same structure, though no official plot details have been disclosed.
Although Detective Pikachu will mark the first time that Pokemon receives live action theatrical attention, it is by no means the franchise's first movie. Pokemon: The First Movie was released in the United States in 1999, and saw the anime characters encountering Mewtwo and Mew. Four more theatrical movies followed in the United States between 2000 and 2003, and every Pokemon movie released since then has been direct-to-video in the U.S. This project, however, is surely the franchise's biggest cinematic endeavor yet, and considering the resurgence in Pokemon's popularity, it's no wonder Legendary is seizing the opportunity to release this sometime in the near future.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for updates on the Detective Pikachu movie as more news comes in, and make sure to let us know what you think of Rob Letterman leading the charge in the comments below.