Legendary Entertainment has won a spirited bidding war (see “Bidding War for Pokemon Rights”) and acquired the rights to create a live-action film based on the long-lived (and recently reinvigorated) Pokemon franchise.  Legendary, which was acquired earlier this year by China’s richest man (Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda—see “Things to Come Dept.: Wanda Buys Legendary”), is partnering with the Pokemon Company to fast-track the live-action Pokemon movie into production in early in 2017 in order to take advantage of the current wave of interest in the franchise created by the worldwide success of the Pokemon Go phone game (see “Pokemon Go & Stores”).

According to Variety, Legendary’s live-action Pokemon movie will focus on Detective Pikachu, a new iteration of the popular Pokemon character Pikachu introduced in a new game, Great Detective Pikachu: Birth of a New Duo that Nintendo released in Japan this past February.  This Detective Pikachu is very verbal, but lacks the quickness and athleticism of other Pikachu.  He also claims to be a highly intelligent investigator, and when he finally meets a boy who can understand what he is saying (Tim Goodman, the other half of the “New Duo”), they team up and solve mysteries.

Pokemon debuted in Japan in 1996 and was one of the first multi-platform successes, with both a popular anime series (that has lasted 19 seasons) as well as manga helping to drive sales of video games, a trading card game and all sorts of merchandise.  The hugely successful franchise has sold over 279 million video games worldwide, and the tabletop Pokemon TCG has sold over 21.5 billion cards worldwide.