Pokemon has had a remarkable run here in the U.S., but last week a couple of signs appeared that indicate that the major marketing phenomenon of the late 1990s is showing further signs of erosion. The first was that for the first time in the history of the Lycos 50 Report, which details the number of searches for any topic on the Lycos search engine, Pokemon dropped out of the top 50. Pokemon had logged 136 straight weeks on the Lycos list, where it had held the number one slot during all of 1999 through July 25 of 2000.
A second sign was that Miramax announced that it had acquired the rights to the fourth Pokemon film, Pokemon 4: The Movie...Celebi: A Timeless Encounter. Warner Brothers, which still carries the Pokemon TV series on its WB network, had released the three previous Pokemon films. The fact that Warners passed on Pokemon 4 probably says as much as the property dropping off the Lycos Top 50.
While many pop culture retailers gave up on the property after its white-hot phase was over, others, particularly stores that deal in CCGs and comics, have managed to continue to do quite well with Pokemon. A Pokemon card game product has been on ICv2's Top Ten Games List every month as long as we have been collecting the data, though the new Pokemon Neo-Destiny cards only made to number 10 on last month's list (see 'Top 10 Cool Games'). Viz has continued to publish Pokemon comics and a new Pokemon series is slated for the WB network for next season. As long as the property appears on TV, the Pokemon CCG and comics will probably remain viable as new generations of kids are exposed to the series, replacing those who move on to Yu-Gi-Oh and other properties (see 'Yu-Gi-Oh Goes Daily in April').
Miramax, which also acquired the rights to the fifth Pokemon film, which is currently in production in Japan, plans on releasing Pokemon 4 this coming Thanksgiving. Pokemon 4 did quite well in Japan, grossing $32 million and finishing among the top ten box office films of the year.