Detective Pikachu (film)

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Pokémon Detective Pikachu
The film title is a neon sign on a rooftop in a nighttime cityscape. On the rooftop, beneath the sign stands a man with a yellow creature sitting on his shoulders.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Letterman
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based on
Starring
Music byHenry Jackman[1]
CinematographyJohn Mathieson
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 3, 2019 (2019-05-03) (Japan)
  • May 10, 2019 (2019-05-10) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[2]
Country
  • United States
  • Japan
LanguageEnglish
Budget$150 million[3][4]
Box office$433 million[4]

Pokémon Detective Pikachu[c] is a 2019 urban fantasy mystery film directed by Rob Letterman. Based on the Pokémon franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri and serving as a loose adaptation of the 2016 video game of the same name,[6] it was written by Letterman, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and Derek Connolly, from a story by Hernandez, Samit and Nicole Perlman. The film was produced by Legendary Pictures in association with Toho. It is the first live-action Pokémon film.[7] Ryan Reynolds stars as the voice and facial motion capture of Pikachu, with Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy in live-action roles. The plot follows aspiring trainer Tim Goodman and the titular Pokémon as they attempt to uncover the mysterious disappearance of Tim's father, Harry.

Filming took place from January to May 2018 in Colorado, England and Scotland. Detective Pikachu was released in Japan on May 3, 2019[8][9] and in the United States on May 10, 2019, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, 4DX, and ScreenX formats.[10] It is the first Pokémon film to be distributed theatrically in the United States since Pokémon Heroes (2003) and the first to be so distributed by Warner Bros. since Pokémon 3 (2001). The film received mixed reviews from critics. With a worldwide gross of over $433 million, it is the highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time.

Development of a sequel was announced in January 2019, before the release of the film.

Plot[edit]

In the Pokémon universe, Tim Goodman is a 21-year-old insurance adjuster who gave up his dream of being a Pokémon trainer following the death of his mother and becoming estranged from his father Harry Goodman. Tim is contacted by the police of Ryme City, a city where humans and Pokémon live together in harmony, and as such, catching and battling with Pokémon is outlawed. He is informed by Harry's friend and Ryme City police detective, Hideo Yoshida, that Harry was killed in a car accident.

Tim goes to Harry's apartment to sort things out and meets a deerstalker-clad Pikachu that can talk and be understood by him, though all others simply hear him say "Pika." Tim accidentally releases a mysterious purple gas, "R," from a vial he finds in Harry's office; they are then attacked by a party of Aipom[d] who become rabid under the gas's influence.

The pair escape and Pikachu explains he has amnesia and his only clue to his identity is Harry's name and address on his cap, leading him to believe he was Harry's partner and that Harry survived the crash. They meet an informant of Harry's, a Mr. Mime who directs them to an underground illegal Pokémon battle arena. The arena's owner, Sebastian, recognizes Pikachu, who had injured his Charizard in a previous battle, and demands a rematch. He doses Charizard with the purple gas, stirring it into a violent rage and Pikachu is unable to summon his electrical powers to fight back. While attempting to save Pikachu, Tim knocks Sebastian over and breaks several gas vials in his jacket, sending the arena's Pokémon into a frenzy. The arena is raided by police and Tim is brought to Lieutenant Yoshida, who reveals footage of Harry’s crash. Using the footage as evidence, Yoshida tells Tim that it is impossible for Harry to have survived the crash. However, Tim still decides to pursue the mystery of how Pikachu lost his memories.

Tim and Pikachu are contacted by Howard Clifford, the wheelchair-bound founder of Ryme City and founder of Clifford Industries. Howard reveals Harry survived and was taken by an advanced form of Mewtwo, who erased Pikachu's memory. He warns Tim that his son Roger is behind the creation of "R", and if he finds Mewtwo, he can find his father. Tim and Pikachu recruit aspiring journalist Lucy Stevens and travel to the abandoned genetics lab Harry was investigating. The lab's personnel had been experimenting on Mewtwo and synthesized "R" from its genes. They are attacked by genetically enhanced Greninja and Pikachu is gravely injured. Tim begs a Bulbasaur to help his Pokémon and it leads him to Mewtwo, who heals Pikachu before being captured by Roger. Pikachu remembers that he helped Mewtwo escape from the lab and believes he was responsible for betraying Harry. Not trusting himself, he leaves Tim.

Pikachu comes across the scene of the car crash and finds evidence that it was the Greninja, not Mewtwo, who were responsible. In Ryme City, Howard reveals the captured Mewtwo to Tim, exposing himself as the true mastermind: he takes control of Mewtwo's body using a neural-link helmet that places his mind inside Mewtwo's while his human body remains in the wheelchair. He explains that Mewtwo can fuse humans and Pokémon, allowing humans to evolve as Pokémon can and become one with them, but this can only be done if the Pokémon is in a confused state, thus the need for "R". This also means that disabilities like Howard's won't exist. Believing this is the future of humankind, Howard releases the gas across the city and begins fusing humans with their Pokémon. Pikachu summons his electrical powers to battle Mewtwo while Tim fights Howard's genetically modified Ditto, who had been impersonating Roger; the real Roger had been tied up and gagged by his father. Tim manages to remove Howard's helmet from his body, freeing Mewtwo from his control.

Mewtwo restores the city inhabitants to normal, Howard is arrested and Roger hires Lucy as a full-time reporter, promising the city that he will fix his father's mistakes. Mewtwo explains that Harry tried to save him from Howard and helped Mewtwo escape, but was attacked by the Greninja. Pikachu had volunteered to have himself fused with Harry to save his life, the experience erasing both their memories. Mewtwo separates the two and Harry reunites with Tim in his human body. Tim decides to stay in Ryme City to become a detective and spend more time with his father and Pikachu.

Cast[edit]

  • Ryan Reynolds as:
    • Detective Pikachu, a world-class detective and exceptionally intelligent talking Pikachu whom only Tim can understand. Reynolds performed both the voice and facial motion capture for the character.
      • Ikue Ōtani provides Detective Pikachu's normal voice as heard by everyone other than Tim. Ōtani reprises her role from the Pokémon animated series and video games.
    • Harry Goodman, Tim's missing father and a veteran Ryme City police detective.
  • Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, a former Pokémon trainer and insurance agent looking for his missing father. He is also Detective Pikachu's partner and the only person capable of hearing him speak.
    • Max Fincham as Young Tim Goodman.
  • Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens, a junior reporter who is accompanied by a Psyduck.
  • Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman/Ditto, Howard's genetically-modified Ditto who poses as his bodyguard and assistant, Ms. Norman.
  • Omar Chaparro as Sebastian, a Pokémon trainer who runs a secret Ryme City Pokémon battle arena and is accompanied by a Charizard.
  • Chris Geere as Roger Clifford, Howard's son who is president of CMN and Clifford Industries.
  • Rita Ora as Dr. Ann Laurent, a scientist for Clifford Enterprises experimenting on Mewtwo.
  • Karan Soni as Jack, Tim's friend who is a Pokémon trainer and encourages him to catch his own Pokémon.
  • Josette Simon as "Grams", Tim's grandmother who took care of him after the death of her daughter (Tim's mother).
  • Ken Watanabe as Detective Hideo Yoshida, a veteran Ryme City police lieutenant and friend of Harry who is accompanied by a Snubbull. Watanabe also voiced his own lines in the Japanese version.
  • Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford, the disabled visionary behind Ryme City and founder of Clifford Industries.
  • Rina Hoshino and Kotaro Watanabe as Mewtwo, a man-made Pokémon that was targeted by Howard Clifford for his abilities.
  • Rachael Lillis as Jigglypuff (archive voice recording)

Additionally, Diplo appears as the DJ who performs at Sebastian's Pokémon arena. Ryoma Takeuchi, who provides the Japanese dubbed voice of Tim, has a cameo as a Pokémon trainer in a video Tim watches. In a deleted scene, Rob Delaney appears as a co-worker of Tim at the insurance company.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The film was officially announced in July 2016,[12] although Legendary Pictures were reported to be in talks as early as April of that year.[13] The Pokémon Company and Letterman wanted to adapt Detective Pikachu because of their interest in making a film that focused on another character besides Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the Pokémon animated TV series. On the premise, Letterman stated, "The Pokémon Company, they've already made many, many movies of Ash, and they came to Legendary with this idea of using a new character. So when I came onboard, I was pitched this character of Detective Pikachu, and I fell in love with the story behind it."[14] The idea of talking Pokémon originated from an early concept for the 1990s TV series, but was scrapped when the original game developer, Game Freak, was unsatisfied with the concept. The idea was revived for the 2016 Detective Pikachu spin-off game.[15] Letterman said that they "spent a year designing all the characters ahead of shooting so that we could get it all right".[16]

Rob Letterman was hired to direct the film on November 30, 2016, and the studio fast-tracked production to start in 2017.[17] On August 16, 2016, Nicole Perlman and Alex Hirsch were in negotiations with Legendary to write the screenplay.[18] Later revisions were provided by Eric Pearson, Thomas McCarthy, Derek Connolly, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and Letterman.[19] Ultimately, Hernandez, Samit, Letterman, and Connolly received screenplay credit, and with Hernandez, Samit and Perlman receiving "story by" billing.

Casting[edit]

In November 2017, Justice Smith was cast in the lead human role, with Kathryn Newton added to costar after an intense session of reading and testing actresses opposite Smith. Newton beat out Natalia Dyer, Haley Lu Richardson, and Katherine Langford for the role.[20][21] In December 2017, Ryan Reynolds was cast in the title role, portrayed via motion-capture and voice over.[22] Other actors considered for the role were Danny DeVito, Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman.[23][24][25] In January 2018, with production commencing, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy and Chris Geere joined the cast,[26][27] in February 2018, Suki Waterhouse and Rita Ora were additionally,[28][29] with Omar Chaparro joining in April.[30] In January 2019, Rob Delaney had previously stated that he had a role,[31] but he does not appear in the final cut of the film.

Filming[edit]

Principal production began on January 15, 2018, in London, England and Denver, Colorado.[32] Nine days later, Legendary announced that principal photography had officially begun.[33][34] Much of the on set interaction and vocal reference for Pikachu was filled in by Jon Bailey. However, all of his dialogue was dubbed over by Ryan Reynolds.[35] Principal photography concluded on May 1, 2018.[36] Some filming took place at Shepperton Studios, Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, and Minley Woods in Hampshire, rural areas of Colorado, just outside Denver and Colorado Springs; and Scotland. Filming also took place on Anchor Wharf at the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent.[37]

The film's cinematographer, John Mathieson, noted that, like his other films, Detective Pikachu was shot on traditional film, in contrast to most other contemporary films which are shot digitally. He said the use of traditional film helps make it "look more realistic".[38]

Post-production[edit]

The film's visual effects were provided by the Moving Picture Company (MPC), Framestore, Image Engine, Rodeo FX, and Instinctual VFX.[39] Much of the visual effects were provided by the same team behind The Jungle Book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Lion King. Letterman compared the visual effects to the character of Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy: "They're technically, some of the most high-end visual effects in the world... It's completely photo-realistic, like they are alive and in the movie." Additional audio recording of a fight between Detective Pikachu and Charizard was recorded during the 2018 Pokémon World Championships.[14]

Music[edit]

Henry Jackman, who previously worked with Letterman on Gulliver's Travels, provided the score for the film.[40] Kygo and Rita Ora released a standalone single for the film, titled "Carry On". The song and the music video were released on April 19, 2019.[41] Japanese hip hop group Honest Boyz also collaborated with Lil Uzi Vert to make another song for the film, titled "Electricity" and produced by Pharrell Williams.[42]

Marketing[edit]

In early November 2018, with the film in the post-production phase, a screen test was held for an incomplete version of the film, which drew positive reactions from the test audience.[43][44]

The film's first official trailer was released on November 12, 2018.[45] Warner Bros. revealed versions of the trailer in English along with dubbed versions in Spanish, French, Italian and German.[46] It soon became the top trending video on YouTube,[47] and a top trending topic on Twitter,[48] while inspiring numerous internet memes and reaction videos.[49] Within 24 hours, the high-concept trailer amassed more than 100 million views across multiple online and social media platforms.[49][50] On YouTube, the English-language trailer garnered over 1 million likes within two days,[51] and 1.22 million likes within five days.[52] On Twitter, it set a new record of over 400,000 mentions on the day of the trailer reveal.[53] A second trailer, featuring an appearance by Mewtwo, was released on February 26, 2019.[54] A day prior to the trailer's release, Ryan Reynolds uploaded a video onto his YouTube channel that features interviews with himself and his wife, Blake Lively.[55] A third trailer was released on April 22, 2019.[56] The film was supported by a $100 million marketing budget.[57]

On November 30, 2018, Letterman, Smith, and Newton appeared on stage during the Tokyo Comic-Con event.[58]

On May 7, 2019, a Warner Bros. YouTube channel named "Inspector Pikachu" uploaded a video purporting to be a bootleg recording of the film. Spanning nearly 1.75 hours in length, the opening minute shows the production logo sequences followed by a scene from the film featuring Tim Goodman, before spending the remainder of its runtime depicting Pikachu performing aerobics to an upbeat, 1980s-inspired synthwave tune. Reynolds aided in the prank, posting on Twitter as if he was alerting Warner Bros. and the film's official accounts about the alleged bootleg.[59][60][61] The video, which Paul Tassi of Forbes described as "brilliant", received 4.2 million views in less than a day.[59]

Merchandise and other tie-ins[edit]

On March 15, 2019, it was revealed that Legendary will release a graphic novel based on the film.[62] Niantic Labs promoted the film through the Pokémon Go app, by featuring, among other things, select Pokémon from the movie appear in the game, including a limited edition "detective" version of Pikachu.[63] The Pokémon Company released a series of trading cards featuring images from the film, including a limited edition Detective Pikachu card only available the first weekend of the film's release.[64][65] A set of 6 Detective Pikachu toys were also sold at Burger King.[66] Wicked Cool Toys, the current toy partner for the franchise, released figures and plush toys for retail as well.[67]

Release[edit]

Theatrical[edit]

Japan[edit]

Initially, Universal Pictures was due to handle distribution outside Japan, while Toho would handle the Japanese distribution.[68] On July 25, 2018, Warner Bros. announced they had taken over worldwide distribution duties (except in Japan and China) from Universal, with the release date unchanged.[69] The film received a PG rating from the MPAA, it is the first Pokémon film released in the United States not to receive a G rating.[70]

When the film's Japanese release was announced on November 29, 2018, Ryoma Takeuchi was confirmed to voice Tim Goodman in the Japanese version.[71] Takeuchi also has a brief cameo appearance in the film itself as a Pokémon trainer.[72] On March 20, 2019, it was confirmed that Marie Iitoyo would voice Lucy Stevens and Ken Watanabe would reprise his role as Detective Yoshida, in the Japanese dub.[73] When the film premiered in Japan on May 3, 2019, Hidetoshi Nishijima was confirmed to have voiced Detective Pikachu in the Japanese dub.[74]

International[edit]

The US premiere was held on May 3, 2019, in New York and featured a yellow carpet.[75] Detective Pikachu released shortly after on May 8, 2019, in Europe May 9, 2019, in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia, and May 10, 2019, in the China, UK, Ireland, Canada, and the US, in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, 4DX, and ScreenX formats.[76]

Home media[edit]

Detective Pikachu was released on Digital HD on July 23, 2019, and was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on August 6, 2019.[77]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Detective Pikachu grossed $144.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $288.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $433 million, against a production budget of $150 million.[4]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Tolkien, Poms and The Hustle, and was projected to gross $50–70 million from 4,202 theaters.[3][78] The film made $20.7 million on its first day, including $5.7 million from Thursday night previews, both records for a film based on a video game.[79] Detective Pikachu went on to debut to $54.4 million, finishing second at the weekend box office behind holdover Avengers: Endgame.[80][81] At the time, it was the best-ever opening for a video game film, (the record was broken the following year by Sonic the Hedgehog with $58 million)[82][83] and was also the sixth-highest total for a film that did not debut number one at the box office.[84] In its second weekend, the film made $24.8 million, finishing third behind John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Avengers: Endgame,[85] and then made $13.3 million in its third weekend, finishing fourth.[86]

In other territories, the film was projected to debut to $90–120 million from 62 countries, including $40–60 million in China.[87] Prior to its worldwide release, the film grossed $21 million from openings and previews in several international markets, including Japan, through Thursday.[88] The film had an international opening weekend debut of $103 million (and a five-day debut of $112.4 million), dethroning Avengers: Endgame at the top of the international box office.[89] Detective Pikachu topped the international box office again in its second weekend.[90] Despite breaking records, the film fell below expectations due to the high budget.[91]

In Japan, the film opened at number three (behind Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire and Avengers: Endgame), grossing ¥948 million ($8.6 million) in its opening weekend,[92] before topping the box office in its second weekend, with a cumulative ¥1,465,395,700[93] ($13,327,837).[94] In China, Detective Pikachu had an opening day gross of $16.4 million,[95] and topped the box office with a weekend debut of $40.8 million.[88] It topped the Chinese box office again in its second week, with a cumulative $69.3 million.[96] In the United Kingdom, it topped the box office with a £4.9 million ($6.6 million) debut.[97] As of May 26, 2019, the film's largest international markets are China ($84.4 million), Japan ($21.2 million), the United Kingdom ($13.6 million), Mexico ($10.4 million), and Germany ($9.5 million).[98]

Critical response[edit]

The design of Detective Pikachu, and Ryan Reynolds' portrayal of the character, received critical praise.[99][100]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 68% based on 296 reviews, with an average rating of 6.02/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not take its wonderfully bizarre premise as far as it could have, but this offbeat adaptation should catch most – if not all – of the franchise's fans."[101] It was the first international theatrical live-action video game adaptation to maintain a "fresh" rating and it was the highest rated video game adaptation on the site, until it was surpassed by The Angry Birds Movie 2.[102] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on reviews from 48 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[103] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while general audiences polled by PostTrak gave it 4 out of 5 stars.[80]

Scott Mendelson of Forbes called the film "the best video game movie ever" and wrote, "Detective Pikachu works because it's a good movie first and a promising franchise-starter or a brand cash-in second. It's a real film, rooted in character arcs and narrative twists with just enough raw emotion and personal stakes to make the significant special effects moments matter beyond spectacle."[104] CNET's Sean Keane called it the best film ever based on a video game, saying it achieves the balance of appealing to existing fans as well as potential new audiences. Keane praised Reynolds performance and called the film "an entertaining romp with plenty of heart".[99]

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Rechtshaffen said, "Although the script... tends to compartmentalize the comedy, action and emotional bits rather than organically blending them all together, Letterman's energetic direction manages to hold everything aloft."[105] Alonso Duralde's mixed review for TheWrap is led by the subheading, "live-action-plus-animation take on the popular game feels both ambitious and lazy, frenzied and sluggish."[106] Peter Debruge of Variety magazine was critical of the plot and the special effects "Though consistent with the game [...], the story of "Detective Pikachu" doesn't allow nearly enough Pokémon-related action, while the quality of the computer animation [...] falls far short of the basic level of competency audiences have come to expect from effects movies." Debruge is also critical of the central pairing of Pikachu and Tim Goodman, saying the relationship lacks chemistry.[107] Kate Erbland of Indiewire gave the film a mixed review, praising the visuals, saying the film is "nothing short of awe-inspiring," but criticizes the messy plot "no amount of technical polish can detract from a thin narrative that confuses far more than it amuses" and complains that many of the best jokes were in the trailer.[108]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Teen Choice Awards August 11, 2019 Choice Comedy Movie Detective Pikachu Nominated [109]
Choice Comedy Movie Actor Ryan Reynolds Nominated [109]
Choice Movie Song Kygo and Rita Ora for "Carry On" Nominated [109]
People's Choice Awards November 10, 2019 Family Movie of 2019 Detective Pikachu Nominated [110]
Favorite Animated Movie Star Ryan Reynolds Nominated [110]
Hollywood Post Alliance November 21, 2019 Outstanding Visual Effects – Feature Film Detective Pikachu Nominated [111]
Hollywood Critics Association January 9, 2020 Best Visual Effects or Animated Performance Ryan Reynolds Nominated [112]
Annie Awards January 25, 2020 Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production Dale Newton, Waiyin Mendoza, Rochelle Flynn, Leila Gaed and Paul Jones Nominated [113]

Sequel[edit]

In January 2019, months ahead of the release of Detective Pikachu, Legendary Entertainment announced that a sequel was already in development, with Oren Uziel signed on as screenwriter.[114][115]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Detective Pikachu was developed by Creatures, directed by Naoki Miyashita, written by Tomokazu Ohara and Haruka Utsui, and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company.
  2. ^ The Pokémon Company is owned by Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures, Inc.
  3. ^ Also known as Pokémon: Detective Pikachu and released as Great Detective Pikachu[5] in Japan after the original game
  4. ^ As written in the "Name" section of the main Pokémon article, "'Pokémon' is identical in the singular and plural, as is each individual species name; it is grammatically correct to say 'one Pokémon' and 'many Pokémon', as well as 'one Pikachu' and 'many Pikachu'."[11]

References[edit]

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