Warner Bros. is billing the hybrid Pokémon Detective Pikachu as the first-ever live-action Pokémon film, but let’s be honest: the real star of this film is animation, with the novelty of seeing the Pokémon universe as slickly-rendered cg characters (hairy Pikachu and fleshy Mr. Mime are generating a lot of the early discussion on social).
Rob Letterman, an animation director (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens) who transitioned to hybrid and live films (Goosebumps, Gulliver’s Travels), directs from a script by himself and Nicole Perlman, based on an original story by Tomokazu Ohara and Haruka Utsui.
Animation and vfx are produced by a variety of vendors, led by MPC and Framestore, under the direction of vfx supervisor Erik Nordby. Other key creative credits are John Mathieson (director of photography), Nigel Phelps (production designer), and Mark Sanger (editor). Ryan Reynolds voices the lead, Detective Pikachu.
The film riffs on the Nintendo 3Ds game of the same name. Here’s the set-up:
The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is set for release in the U.S. on May 10, 2019. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros., which picked up the Legendary Entertainment production from Universal earlier this year.
The film will be distributed outside of Japan and China by Warner Bros. Pictures, in Japan by Toho Company, and by Legendary East in China.