'Pokemon' Movie Rights Land at Legendary

After the new augmented reality game Pokemon Go became a sensation, the studio sealed a deal for film rights with the Japanese-based The Pokemon Co.
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'Pokemon 3'

On the heels of Pokemon Go fever, Legendary has closed a deal for the film rights for the iconic Japanese property.

Legendary and The Pokemon Co. on Wednesday announced that they will launch the first Pokemon live-action film franchise based on Detective Pikachu, a new character in the Pokemon universe.

Details on the plot and story of the character are being kept under wraps. The film will be fast-tracked to start production in 2017.

Back in April, before the augmented reality game had become an obsession, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed that Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment, which since January is a division of China's Dalian Wanda Group, was nearing a deal for the Pokemon property in a top-secret auction.

After Pokemon Go, an app game that allows users to travel around collecting Pokemon, became a phenomenon quickly after its July 6 launch, Legendary set about closing the deal with The Pokemon Co., the Japanese outfit that manages the rights to the franchise spun from the hit Nintendo game. Sources say Netflix was very hot on the property.

Universal Pictures will handle distribution of the live-action film outside of Japan. Toho will handle distribution in Japan.

Pokemon, first created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, is a franchise of video games, trading cards, TV shows, comic books and movies that center on the unique creatures that are collected by Pokemon Trainers, who then train them to battle for sport.

The first video game, launched for Game Boy, was released in 1996. The first film, Pokemon: The First Movie — Mewtwo Strikes Back, was released in 1998 and there have been 19 films released based on the property.

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