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Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a 2019 urban fantasy mystery film directed by Rob Letterman. Based on the Pokémon franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri and the 2016 video game Detective Pikachu,[4] it was written by Letterman, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and Derek Connolly, from a story by Hernandez, Samit and Nicole Perlman. The film was produced by Legendary Pictures in association with Toho. It is the first live-action Pokémon film.[5] Ryan Reynolds stars as the voice and facial motion capture of Pikachu, with Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy in live-action roles.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Pokémon Detective Pikachu teaser poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Letterman
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onDetective Pikachu
by Creatures Inc.[a]
Starring
Music byHenry Jackman[1]
CinematographyJohn Mathieson
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Worldwide)
  • Toho (Japan)
Release date
  • May 3, 2019 (2019-05-03) (Japan)
  • May 10, 2019 (2019-05-10) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes
Country
  • United States
  • Japan
LanguageEnglish
Budget$150 million[2]
Box office$425.1 million[3]

Filming took place from January to May 2018 in Colorado, England, and Scotland. It was released in Japan on May 3, 2019,[6][7] and in the United States on May 10, 2019, distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment in RealD 3D and Dolby Cinema.[8] It is the first Pokémon film to be distributed theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. since Pokémon 3: The Movie (2000), and with a PG rating from the MPAA, it is also the first Pokémon film released in the United States not to receive a G rating.[9]

Detective Pikachu received favorable reviews from critics, who praised the creature designs and Reynolds' performance but criticized the plot as being standard.[10][11] The film has grossed over $425 million and is the sixth highest grossing film of 2019. It is the best-reviewed live-action film adaptation of a video game on Rotten Tomatoes, and it also received positive grades from audiences polled by CinemaScore and PostTrak.

Contents

PlotEdit

In the Pokémon universe, Tim Goodman is a 21-year-old insurance salesman who has given up Pokémon training due to the death of his mother and the absence of his father, Harry. He travels to Ryme City – a metropolis where humans and Pokémon live together as equals – to collect Harry's assets following his apparent death in a car crash. In Harry's apartment, Tim encounters a deerstalker-clad Pikachu that can speak and only he can somehow understand; the pair then escape from an attack by a party of Aipom[b] under the influence of an "R"-labeled purple gas that Tim accidentally released upon inspection. They take shelter at a café where Pikachu reveals that he is an amnesiac detective who was Harry's police partner, and that they were investigating a case together when Harry disappeared. They look for Lucy Stevens, a fluff columnist and aspiring reporter suspicious of Harry's death, who Tim had previously encountered. She leads Tim and Pikachu to Ryme Wharf and, after interrogating a Mr. Mime there, are directed to an illegal Pokemon fighting arena owned by Sebastian. He demands a rematch with Pikachu, who previously defeated Sebastian's Charizard. However, after Sebastian gives Charizard a dose of the R gas, Tim attempts to save Pikachu during the rematch. Sebastian then mishandles the R gas and accidentally releases it into the stadium, causing havoc. Sebastian tells Tim that he got the R gas from "the doctor".

After confronting police lieutenant Hideo Yoshida about Harry's apparent death and the possibility of his survival, Tim and Pikachu are brought before Ryme City's benefactor Howard Clifford, who reveals to Tim that Harry indeed survived his car crash, which was caused by an attack from a recently escaped Mewtwo, which took him away and left Pikachu with amnesia. Howard warns them of his son, Roger, who he claims is in de facto control of his company and the city. Tim and Pikachu recruit Lucy and her Psyduck on an expedition to the lab facility Harry was investigating, where they learn Sebastian's "doctor" was a researcher aided by Harry, who had been experimenting on Mewtwo, recaptured after escaping 20 years earlier.[c] They are soon attacked by several Greninja who chase them out of the building, but are fended off by Psyduck. They then escape a field of colossal Torterra, but Pikachu is gravely injured. Tim manages to communicate with a Bulbasaur and takes Pikachu to a clearing in the forest where they are greeted by Mewtwo, who heals Pikachu. Mewtwo attempts to reveal its intent, but is captured by Roger. Thinking that he betrayed Harry to a vengeful Mewtwo, Pikachu leaves Tim while the others return to Ryme City to warn Howard. Pikachu comes across the area where Harry's car crash occurred, and finds evidence that the Greninja attacked Harry, not Mewtwo.

Tim reaches Howard, but learns too late that he intends to transfer his consciousnesses into Mewtwo and use his powers to fuse Pokémon with their owners, with the assistance of the R gas. He also learns that "Roger" had actually been a shape-shifting Ditto, with the real Roger having been tied up and hidden. As Howard in Mewtwo's body starts fusing humans with Pokémon, Pikachu arrives and finally summons his electricity powers to battle Mewtwo, fending off Mewtwo long enough for Tim to free Mewtwo from Howard's control. Mewtwo restores everyone to normal while Howard is arrested by the police, and reveals that Harry was in fact fused with Pikachu in order to heal him; the fusion erased Harry's memory while keeping his consciousness within Pikachu. After Mewtwo unfuses them with the help of Tim, a fully revived Harry offers Tim the chance to return home, but Tim decides to stay in order to learn how to become a detective and spend time with him and Pikachu.

CastEdit

  • Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu, a world-class detective and exceptionally smart Pikachu whom only Tim can understand. Reynolds performed both the voice and facial motion capture for the character.
    • Reynolds also portrays Harry Goodman, Tim's missing father and a veteran Ryme City police detective.
    • Ikue Ōtani provides Detective Pikachu's normal voice as heard by everyone other than Tim.
  • Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, a former Pokémon trainer looking for his missing father; he is also Detective Pikachu's partner, and the only person capable of hearing him speak.
    • Max Fincham as Young Tim Goodman.
  • Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens, a junior reporter who is accompanied by a Psyduck.
  • Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford, the disabled visionary behind Ryme City and founder of Clifford Enterprises.
  • Ken Watanabe as Detective Hideo Yoshida, a veteran Ryme City police lieutenant and friend of Harry who is accompanied by a Snubbull.
  • Chris Geere as Roger Clifford, Howard's son and president of Clifford Enterprises.
  • Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman, a human disguise used by a modified shape-shifting Ditto that is Howard's accomplice.
  • Omar Chaparro as Sebastian, a Pokémon trainer who runs a secret Ryme City Pokémon battle arena who is accompanied by a Charizard.
  • Rita Ora as Dr. Ann Laurent, a scientist for Clifford Enterprises experimenting on Mewtwo.
  • Karan Soni as Jack, Tim's friend who is a Pokémon trainer.
  • Josette Simon as "Grams", Tim's grandmother who took care of him after the death of Tim's mother.
  • Kadiff Kirwan as the Mayor of Ryme City
  • Rina Hoshino and Kotaro Watanabe as Mewtwo (voice)
  • Rachael Lillis as Jigglypuff (archive voice recording)

Additionally, Diplo appears as himself, the DJ who performs at Sebastian's Pokémon arena. Ryoma Takeuchi, who provides the Japanese dubbed voice of Tim, has a cameo as a Pokémon trainer in a video Tim watches.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

The film was officially announced in July 2016,[13] although Legendary Pictures were reported to be in talks as early as April of that year.[14] The Pokémon Company and Letterman wanted to adapt Detective Pikachu because of their interest in making a film that focused on another character besides Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the Pokémon animated TV series. On the premise, Letterman stated, "The Pokémon Company, they've already made many, many movies of Ash, and they came to Legendary with this idea of using a new character. So when I came onboard, I was pitched this character of Detective Pikachu, and I fell in love with the story behind it."[15] The idea of talking Pokémon originated from an early concept for the 1990s TV series, but was scrapped when the original game developer, Game Freak, was unsatisfied with the concept. The idea was revived for the 2016 Detective Pikachu spin-off game.[16] Letterman said that they "spent a year designing all the characters ahead of shooting so that we could get it all right".[17]

Rob Letterman was hired to direct the film on November 30, 2016, and the studio fast-tracked production to start in 2017.[18] On August 16, 2016, Nicole Perlman and Alex Hirsch were in negotiations with Legendary to write the screenplay.[19] Later revisions were provided by Eric Pearson, Thomas McCarthy, Derek Connolly, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and Letterman.[20] Ultimately, Hernandez, Samit, Letterman, and Connolly received screenplay credit, and with Hernandez, Samit and Perlman receiving "story by" billing.

CastingEdit

In November 2017, Justice Smith was cast in the lead human role, with Kathryn Newton added to costar after an intense session of reading and testing actresses opposite Smith. Newton beat out Natalia Dyer, Haley Lu Richardson, and Katherine Langford for the role.[21][22] In December 2017, Ryan Reynolds was cast in the title role, portrayed via motion-capture and voice over.[23] Other actors considered for the role were Danny DeVito, Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman.[24][25][26] In January 2018, with production commencing, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy and Chris Geere joined the cast,[27][28] in February 2018, Suki Waterhouse and Rita Ora were added as well,[29][30] and in April 2018, Omar Chaparro had been signed.[31] In January 2019, Rob Delaney had previously stated that he had a role,[32] but he does not appear in the final cut of the film.

FilmingEdit

Principal production began on January 15, 2018, in London, England and Denver, Colorado.[33] Nine days later, Legendary announced that principal photography had officially begun.[34][35] Much of the on set interaction and vocal reference for Pikachu was filled in by Jon Bailey. However, all of his dialogue was dubbed over by Ryan Reynolds.[36] Principal photography concluded on May 1, 2018.[37] Some filming was done at Shepperton Studios, Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, and Minley Woods in Hampshire; rural areas of Colorado, just outside Denver and Colorado Springs; and Scotland.

The film's cinematographer, John Mathieson, noted that, like his other films, Detective Pikachu was shot on traditional film, in contrast to most other contemporary films which are shot digitally. He said the use of traditional film helps make it "look more realistic".[38]

Post-productionEdit

The film's visual effects were provided by the Moving Picture Company (MPC), Framestore, Image Engine, Rodeo FX, and Instinctual VFX.[39] Much of the visual effects were provided by the same team behind The Jungle Book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Lion King. Letterman compared the visual effects to the character of Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy: "They're technically, some of the most high-end visual effects in the world... It's completely photo-realistic, like they are alive and in the movie." Additional audio recording of a fight between Detective Pikachu and Charizard was recorded at the Pokémon World Championships 2018.[15]

MusicEdit

Henry Jackman, who previously worked with Letterman on Gulliver's Travels, provided the score for the film.[40] Kygo and Rita Ora released a standalone single for the film, titled "Carry On". The song and the music video were released on April 19, 2019.[41] Japanese hip hop group Honest Boyz also collaborated with Lil Uzi Vert to make another song for the film, titled "Electricity" and produced by Pharrell Williams.[42]

MarketingEdit

In early November 2018, with the film in the post-production phase, a screen test was held for an incomplete version of the film, which drew considerably positive reactions from the test audience. Praise was directed towards the script, visual effects, and Reynolds' performance.[43][44]

The film's first official trailer was released on November 12, 2018.[45] Warner Bros. revealed versions of the trailer in English along with dubbed versions in Spanish, French, Italian and German.[46] It soon became the top trending video on YouTube,[47] and a top trending topic on Twitter,[48] while inspiring numerous internet memes and reaction videos.[49] Within 24 hours, the high-concept trailer amassed more than 100 million views across multiple online and social media platforms.[49][50] On YouTube, the English-language trailer garnered over 1 million likes within two days,[51] and 1.22 million likes within five days.[52] On Twitter, it set a new record of over 400,000 mentions on the day of the trailer reveal.[53] A second trailer, featuring an appearance by Mewtwo, was released on February 26, 2019.[54] A day prior to the trailer's release, Ryan Reynolds uploaded a video onto his YouTube channel that features interviews with himself and his wife, Blake Lively.[55] A third trailer was released on April 22, 2019.[56]

On November 30, 2018, Letterman, Smith, and Newton appeared on stage during the Tokyo Comic-Con event.[57]

On May 7, 2019, a Warner Bros. YouTube channel named "Inspector Pikachu" uploaded a video purporting to be a bootleg recording of the film. Spanning nearly 1.75 hours in length, the opening minute shows the production logo sequences followed by a scene from the film featuring Tim Goodman, before spending the remainder of its runtime depicting Pikachu performing aerobics to an upbeat, 1980s-inspired synthwave tune. Reynolds aided in the prank, posting on Twitter as if he was alerting Warner Bros. and the film's official accounts about the alleged bootleg.[58][59][60] The video, which Paul Tassi of Forbes described as "brilliant", received 4.2 million views in less than a day.[58]

Merchandise and other tie-insEdit

On March 15, 2019, it was revealed that Legendary will release a graphic novel based on the film.[61]

Niantic Labs promoted the film through the Pokémon Go app, by featuring, among other things, select Pokémon from the movie appear in the game, including a limited edition "detective" version of Pikachu.[62]

The Pokémon Company released a series of trading cards featuring images from the film, including a limited edition Detective Pikachu card only available the first weekend of the film's release.[63][64]

Detective Pikachu toys were also sold at Burger King.

ReleaseEdit

Initially, Universal Pictures was due to handle distribution outside Japan, while Toho would handle the Japanese distribution.[65] On July 25, 2018, Warner Bros. announced they had taken over worldwide distribution duties (except in Japan and China) from Universal, with the release date unchanged.[66]

When the film's Japanese release was announced on November 29, 2018, Ryoma Takeuchi was confirmed to voice Tim Goodman in the Japanese version.[67] Takeuchi also has a brief cameo appearance in the film itself as a Pokémon trainer.[68] On March 20, 2019, it was confirmed that Marie Iitoyo will voice Lucy Stevens and Ken Watanabe will reprise his role as Detective Yoshida, in the Japanese dub.[69] When the film premiered in Japan on May 3, 2019, Hidetoshi Nishijima was confirmed to have voiced Detective Pikachu in the Japanese dub.[70]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of June 23, 2019, Pokémon Detective Pikachu has grossed $142 million in the United States and Canada, and $283.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $425.1 million, against a production budget of $150 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Tolkien, Poms and The Hustle, and was projected to gross $50–70 million from 4,202 theaters.[71][2] The film made $20.7 million on its first day, including $5.7 million from Thursday night previews, both records for a film based on a video game.[72] It went on to debut to $54.4 million, finishing second behind holdover Avengers: Endgame.[73][74] It was the best-ever opening for a video game film, and was also the sixth-highest total for a film that did not debut number one at the box office.[75] In its second weekend the film made $24.8 million, finishing third behind John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Avengers: Endgame,[76] and then made $13.3 million in its third weekend, finishing fourth.[77] On June 14, 2019, Detective Pikachu passed $132 million domestically, becoming the highest-grossing video game film adaptation, surpassing Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).[78][79]

In other territories, the film was projected to debut to $90–120 million from 62 countries, including $40–60 million in China.[80] Prior to its worldwide release, the film grossed $21 million from openings and previews in several international markets, including Japan, through Thursday.[81] The film had an international opening weekend debut of $103 million (and a five-day debut of $112.4 million), dethroning Avengers: Endgame at the top of the international box office.[82] Detective Pikachu topped the international box office again in its second weekend.[83]

In Japan, the film opened at number three (behind Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire and Avengers: Endgame), grossing ¥948 million ($8.6 million) in its opening weekend,[84] before topping the box office in its second weekend, with a cumulative ¥1,465,395,700[85] ($13,327,837).[86] In China, Detective Pikachu had an opening day gross of $16.4 million,[87] and topped the box office with a weekend debut of $40.8 million.[81] It topped the Chinese box office again in its second week, with a cumulative $69.3 million.[88] In the United Kingdom, it topped the box office with a £4.9 million ($6.6 million) debut.[89] As of May 26, 2019, the film's largest international markets are China ($84.4 million), Japan ($21.2 million), the United Kingdom ($13.6 million), Mexico ($10.4 million), and Germany ($9.5 million).[90]

Critical responseEdit

 
The design of Detective Pikachu, and Ryan Reynolds' portrayal of the character, received critical praise.

As of June 2019, 66% of 268 reviews compiled by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes are positive, and have an average rating of 5.96/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not take its wonderfully bizarre premise as far as it could have, but this offbeat adaptation should catch most – if not all – of the franchise's fans."[91] It is the best-reviewed live-action film adaptation of a video game on the website.[92] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, provides a score of 53 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[93] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while general audiences polled by PostTrak gave it 4 out of 5 stars.[73]

Scott Mendelson of Forbes called the film "the best video game movie ever" and wrote, "Detective Pikachu works because it's a good movie first and a promising franchise-starter or a brand cash-in second. It's a real film, rooted in character arcs and narrative twists with just enough raw emotion and personal stakes to make the significant special effects moments matter beyond spectacle."[94] CNET's Sean Keane also called the film the best ever based on a video game, calling it an "entertaining romp with plenty of heart," and praising Reynolds.[95]

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Rechtshaffen said, "Although the script... tends to compartmentalize the comedy, action and emotional bits rather than organically blending them all together, Letterman's energetic direction manages to hold everything aloft."[96] Alonso Duralde's middling review for TheWrap is led by the subheading, "live-action-plus-animation take on the popular game feels both ambitious and lazy, frenzied and sluggish."[97]

SequelEdit

In January 2019, months ahead of the release of Detective Pikachu, Legendary Entertainment announced that a sequel is already in development. Oren Uziel signed on as screenwriter.[98][99]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Detective Pikachu was developed by Creatures, directed by Naoki Miyashita, written by Tomokazu Ohara and Haruka Utsui, and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company.
  2. ^ As written in the "Name" section of the main Pokémon article, "'Pokémon' is identical in the singular and plural, as is each individual species name; it is grammatically correct to say 'one Pokémon' and 'many Pokémon', as well as 'one Pikachu' and 'many Pikachu'."[12]
  3. ^ A reference to the 1998 film Pokémon: The First Movie.

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