Why ‘Pokemon: Detective Pikachu’ Will Be A Success


UPDATE: Pokemon Detective Pikachu opened to $170M worldwide on a $150M budget. Anytime you cover your budget opening weekend it is an unqualified success.
Pokémon + Ryan Reynolds + Guardians of the Galaxy writer + Competent Director + Several 1’s and 0’s = A Whole Lotta Money

The idea of heart-throb Ryan Reynolds being cast to voice Pikachu makes sense in quite a few ways.

$$$ Money!!! Ryan Reynolds took a long time to get a self-regarded hit, more chances than anyone in Hollywood has ever had. More than his contemporaries Reynolds is more than a face to prop up studio tentpoles. He has the charms of a leading man exemplified by; Just Friends and Definitely, Maybe. He is often at least able to pull his own weight; looking at box-office hits Safe House & The Proposal. Yet, what smart studios like Warner Bros. and Legendary understand is that appeal doesn’t always translate to Box-Office receipts. Dwayne Johnson’s stateside under-performances in Baywatch and Skyscraper are examples. You have to tap into that actor’s specific appeal, whatever it may be and follow it all the way down. The Voices showed how bleak humour gave Reynolds delivery an edge for audiences to latch onto. A year later Deadpool capitalized on it in a way no other movie will. Giving a voice to Pikachu will free Reynolds of the chains of safe Hollywood filmmaking. In the process bringing in the Deadpool dollars.

The Studio. According to IMDB several other directors were on the shortlist to direct this movie. On this list was Dean Israelite who directed Saban’s Power Rangers, which isn’t very good. Chris Wedge who directed Ice Age 16 years ago and recently directed the flop Monster Trucks. The director of 1997’s Spawn who hasn’t done a live action or notable film since. Tim Miller, a key ingredient in Deadpool‘s success. Robert Rodriguez of Alita: Battle Angel. Finally, Shane Acker who won an Oscar for his short film 9 which he later adapted into a feature length film 9 years ago. Warner Bros. Legendary, and The Pokemon Company  ended up signing off on a more qualified choice. When you are establishing a new film property you only have room for so much risk. You pick a director that’s competent, adaptable, and not too expensive. An established Journeyman, who has worked on Big Budgets and can spin an effective yarn. That’s Rob Letterman.

This guy got the job because he directed Goosebumps. I watched it recently for the first time on Netflix and it’s a decent film. An all-ages recommendation for something that in lesser hands might be all over the place. The downside to his selection is that you can’t expect a subversive or virtuoso take on the material. Not in directing anyway. It is a safe choice.
The Writer: It wasn’t until the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that I realized someone besides James Gunn was co-credited in writing the superior first installment. Nicole Perlman, surprised the men at Marvel for choosing that project over Captain Marvel. She is writing the screenplay of Detective Pikachu alongside the director. This isn’t a straightforward adaptation of the material. The tone is based in the well-trodden detective pulp sub-genre to give the audience a bit more of a blueprint. things. One might notice how much the high production value helps the genre with things like high detail and lighting (spotlight on the Mr. Mime interrogation) and other effects [FUN FACT: It was shot on film.] Pikachu has the same Oscar-winning cinematographer as Gladiator & Logan. The same editor as Gravity. It’s a very experienced crew. Warner Bros. is bullish thanks in part to Pokemon Go proving the brand still has great strength. Finally, if major audiences check out of the Pokemon angle, it’s still a detective story.

The franchise: This was an inevitable outcome of the cinematic universe craze. The MCU, DCEU, Conjuring Universe. Hollywood will always try to make video game IP a success. Based on the trailers alone I predict the film will be a massive success if not in America than at least worldwide. At the least it will be a fun time too.

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