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These days there's really no such thing as a bad time for a big tentpole movie to release, but the "summer movie season" which these days starts around late April or early May, is still a period that gets a bit more love from studios. Big movies tend to open bigger and it looks like that's going to be the case for Detective Pikachu. Early tracking for the live-action Pokemon movie has it running at an opening weekend of between $75-$90 million with a total domestic run of somewhere around $250 million.
To put that in perspective, the only movie expected to do better than Detective Pikachu at the box office between now and when Pikachu opens May 10 is Avengers: Endgame. The rest of the major releases, Disney's live-action Dumbo, Shazam!, Hellboy, etc. are not expected to do anything close to what Detective Pikachu is looking at putting up.
This is certainly at least somewhat surprising. While Pokemon certainly has a lot of fans, in North America it would still have to be viewed as a niche property. While the success of more mainstream Pokemon games like Pokemon Go certainly have helped the brand achieve broader popularity, there was no guarantee that would translate to success elsewhere. However, based on these numbers it certainly does look like Detective Pikachu is set to be a huge hit.
The fact that Pokemon's international appeal has the potential to result in the film doing even better overseas means that when global numbers are tallied, Detective Pikachu could end up being one of the highest grossing movies of the year.
As Box Office Pro points out, there are some potential stumbling blocks to Pikachu's success. It will be opening during Avengers: Endgame's third weekend, and while that will likely give the superhero juggernaut enough breathing space, if that film is able to retain a sizable audience for that long, it could potentially cut into the business of the Pokemon movie.
Detective Pikachu will likely have about two weeks to make the bulk of its domestic cash. That's when Disney live-action Aladdin will be opening, which will likely appeal to the same wide audience that Pikachu looks to be wooing. The weekend in between will see the opening of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, which, as an R-rated action movie, is unlikely to draw too much away from the Pokemon audience.
Considering the movie is still well over a month away, these projections will almost certainly change. The only question is which direction they will go. There's a strong chance that as we get closer to release more people will begin to get excited about Detective Pikachu. It's very possible this movie will be even bigger than we think it's going to be.