Pokémonia Go Retro Invade!
The first time Pokémania shook the world back in 1990s, it soon after led to the release of Pokémon: The First Movie, the franchise’s first theatrical release. Movie studios knew that releasing a movie involving the characters during the height of its popularity would mean a commercial success.
And Pokémania is back. On July 6th, software development company Niantic released the free app Pokémon GO for first iOS and then Android devices. The concept of the mobile game is to allow users to act as trainers and catch Pokémon as they walk around in real life. The release caused an explosion of media attention. The app generated immediate buzz, and it was in everyone’s mouth for the following weeks. So many people were using the app that the high volumes caused the servers to crash repeatedly.
News outlets are saying that the game has been downloaded more than 50 million times. Not even a day after its release, Pokémon GO raced ahead of other popular game apps to become the year’s most popular app, receiving more active daily users than Twitter. Thanks to in-game purchases, Niantic quickly made themselves millions of dollars.
Tracing backwards through Pokémon’s popularity, back to the first instance of the world being struck with Pokémania, brings us to the release of the Pokémon anime series, based on Nintendo’s Pokémon video games. The anime was popular with children and still produces new episodes today, making it the fifth longest running animated series, behind shows like The Simpsons and Sponge Bob Square Pants.
The combined popularity of the games and anime series soon led to the 1999 North American release of the anime film Pokémon: The First Movie, produced by both Nintendo and 4Kids Entertainment. The movie didn’t receive very positive reviews from film critics, but that didn’t matter — thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the franchise, during the opening weekend the movie topped box office charts and made a worldwide total of $163.6 million.
If this indicates anything, it’s that the franchise’s renewed popularity will most likely result in a movie — or three. Like Pokémon: The First Movie featured characters from the anime series, would a movie now based on the popularity of Pokémon GO involve the same sort of world and devices employed in the mobile app? Meaning, our world, and our phones?
Is Pokémon GO even interesting enough to deserve a movie?
By this time, many children that grew up watching the Pokémon anime series and movies are now older, and very much into their phones and apps. The lasting nostalgia means that it’s fascinating to wonder what it would be like if Pokémon were real, and Pokémon GO gives us that feeling with its augmented reality. It would be amazing if a movie could capture that feeling: someone who always loved Pokémon, discovering they now have the ability to capture the many creatures they’ve grown familiar with over the years.
News has come to light that Legendary Entertainment recently won the rights to a Pokémon movie and plans to release the first live-action Pokémon movie, revolving around the character “Detective Pikachu.” There are no details yet of exactly how this will look, and how much it will resemble the Pokémon GO game itself.
Pokémon GO certainly wouldn’t be the first app or video game to receives its own movie. Just this year, The Angry Birds Movie was released in theatre’s, based on the mobile app game of the same name. The movie was greeted with mixed reviews, but made over $344 million worldwide. It can be almost guaranteed that Pokémon GO would prove even more popular than Angry Birds, and beat those gross numbers, making it a commercial success.
Pokemon Go : Breaking records! Even Apple’s! Then again, this year also saw the release of Warcraft, based on the Blizzard video game series. Though the World of Warcraft epic fantasy games have been very popular for years, the movie generated only $24 million at the box office during its opening weekend.
Knowing that there is a movie in the works, we can at least assume the movie would make bank, just as Pokémon GO has done.