Filming for 2019’s Detective Pikachu movie commenced in central London last week, and naturally the first set photos are beginning to leak online, revealing the first hints of CGI Pokemon, Pokemon stand-ins, and Ryme City — the main setting of the original game.
Twitter user Howard Bud has posted location photos for the Ryme City Police Department and its adjacent Police Plaza. The police department displays missing posters for Machoke, Pancham, and Graveler, giving us our first look at how Pokemon will be rendered in live action. These posters are props that likely won’t be featured in close-ups, so the Pokemon models may not be fully representative of how Pokemon will look in the final film. A Victini silhouette can also be seen in the department’s logo. Like the original game, the movie will include Pokemon from multiple generations.
More set photos of the crew and extras were also leaked online. The blue-suited people and cardboard cutouts are stand-ins for CGI Pokemon, which just goes to show each shot will be bursting with Pokemon characters. Do you spot Treecko and Loudred?
The original Detective Pikachu game was released for the 3DS in Japan on February 3rd, 2016. It’ll come to the US and UK on March 23rd. In the game, a human character named Tim and a gruff, talking, coffee-drinking Pikachu go around town to solve mysteries while trying to discover what happened to Tim’s missing father. The movie will presumably follow a similar plot.
Legendary will release the Detective Pikachu movie in theaters on May 10th, 2019. It stars Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton as the main human characters, Ken Watanabe as a detective, and Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu. Rob Letterman of Goosebumps fame will be directing the film from a script by Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls) and Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy).
Film is a cautious and risk-adverse industry, and in my opinion, Legendary and The Pokemon Company decided to go with a “spinoff” movie rather than a movie about the main Pokemon universe for a couple of strategic reasons. First, doing a movie about a spinoff game avoids pigeonholing and “defining” the Pokemon world for The Pokemon Company’s first foray into live action. This way they’ll have the lessons of this film under their belt to better depict future Pokemon movies. If the movie isn’t well-received, it also won’t hurt the public’s perception of their main series games, which is of course their breadwinner and the basis for their entire franchise and all its spinoffs. Furthermore, I’m sure TPC didn’t want to sell the film rights of their main series to Legendary — selling just the rights to a small Detective Pikachu game and its Detective Pikachu character is less financial risk for them and allows them to gauge financial interest for future movies. It positions them to have control over the direction of their franchise and gives them options.
Hopefully in the future I’ll get to write and direct a main series Pokemon movie. :D I still remember pleading with TPCi employees over a decade ago to let me do a live action main series Pokemon movie when I’m older and experienced. They made it sound like a live action movie would never happen because of the legal rights: “You’ll have to talk to our lawyers at Gamefreak, Creatures, AND Nintendo.” Well now it seems the three companies agreed to let it happen, which means my childhood dream is still possible in the future! :D