Pokemon might not be quite as popular as the creatures' heyday in the late 1990s, but thanks to the franchise continually churning out video games, anime series, trading cards, animated movies and more over the last 22 years, it's retained a strong foothold in the public consciousness. But there's still one proverbial frontier that the Pokemon franchise still hasn't explored: a live action movie. That changes next year with the release of Detective Pikachu, but there's been a slight change behind the scenes with that project. Originally intended to be a Universal Pictures release, Detective Pikachu has found a new home with Warner Bros.
Back in 2013, Warner Bros and Legendary Entertainment parted ways after eight years, and the latter company formed a new partnership with Universal. However, that distribution deal expires on December 31, and according to THR, Detective Pikachu's move to Warner Bros is a precursor to that studio and Legendary teaming back up again. Supposedly Legendary and Universal's relationship has "sputtered" over the last year, which was recently demonstrated by the Dwayne Johnson-led Skyscraper, which commercially underperformed domestically and, according to sources, will ultimately be a "money loser." As things stand now, Black KkKlansman will be Legendary's last movie for Universal, and while it remains to be seen if Legendary and Warner Bros strike a new deal that extends past Detective Pikachu, the Pokemon movie switching studios is not expected to change its release date.
Sometimes movement behind-the-scenes on a movie can result in delays and even creative changes, but in Detective Pikachu's case, it sounds like that's not the case. Detective Pikachu began principal photography back in January and has likely wrapped up, so at this point the movie is likely deep into post-production, with some possible reshoots scheduled for a later date. It was also noted that Warner Bros now has "a stake" in Detective Pikachu, so if it does well at the box office, perhaps that will bode well for another alliance with Legendary, This won't be Warner Bros' first experience with the Pokemon franchise, as the studio distributed the first three animated Pokemon movies between 1999 and 2001.
Inspired by the Great Detective Pikachu video game, Detective Pikachu follows a a super intelligent, regularly-speaking Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who solves crimes with his trainer, Tim Goodman, played by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Justice Smith. The cast also includes Blockers' Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe as Detective Yoshida, Bill Nighy, Suki Waterhouse, Rita Ora, Chris Geere and Omar Chaparro.