Riding on the success of its hit augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go, license-holder The Pokémon Company has confirmed it is to partner with Legendary Pictures for a live-action film, but not one based on the hit app. Instead, it'll be based on Detective Pikachu, a character that debuted in a Nintendo 3DS game in Japan back in February.
In the game, the iconic Pokémon dons a deerstalker hat and helps a human friend find his missing father. Neither company has confirmed if the story-line for the film will remain the same, but there was mention that production for the movie will begin in 2017.
Toho, which has previously collaborated with the Pokémon Company on their other films, will handle distribution in Japan. Universal has won the distribution rights outside Japan, Deadline reports.
Interest in the Pokémon franchise since Go's release has at least matched the Pokéfever that engulfed the world in the late 1990s, perhaps even exceeded it.
Over the course of the series' 20-year history there have been TV shows and films spun-off from the hit games, but all in the animated format. This partnership signals the first time the brand will be given the live-action treatment.
The Pokémon deal was brokered by Don McGowan at The Pokémon Company International, who led the negotiations with outside counsel Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig. Marty Willhite, Daniel Feinberg and Mike Ross represented Legendary.
Legendary, which was acquired by China's Wanda Group in January, had recently signed two other major film deals. In June, it bought over the rights to the Jennifer Lawrence-led film Bad Blood and in July signed a deal for an untitled project by Nate Parker, the producer-director of The Birth Of A Nation.