EXCLUSIVE: After Nintendo’s $9 billion 25% stock price jump followed the launch of the Pokemon Go mobile game in the U.S., all Hollywood has renewed the chase for a deal to turn Pokemon into a feature film. I’m told that Legendary Pictures is moving toward a deal to land the rights to make a live-action film based on the decades-old pocket monster game from Japan that has gotten a giant second wind since the release of the new app. Details are scant at this point, and no deal has been closed, but I am persuaded that it’s headed that way. Attempts to get comment from Legendary were unavailing, and calls to Pokemon USA were not returned.
This will likely test the bounds of the biggest video-game movie rights deal, which is around $5 million against 5% of first-dollar gross. There have been rumors of a potential Pokemon pictures for some time, and every franchise-hungry studio has been in the mix to obtain it. Among the scenarios that have been rumored the past few months was that Chronicle scribe Max Landis would be aboard to write the script. At one point, Legendary was rumored to be near a deal, but then everything went silent. Now it’s come back around.
A deal here would certainly be a coup for Legendary, which most recently released the vidgame transfer Warcraft and watched it do blockbuster business in China, helped by Legendary’s new owners, Wanda.
The value of the movie property became red hot after the Pokemon Go launch, even though it isn’t clear if that iteration of the game will be part of those movie plans. The response to Pokemon Go — where players chase down virtual pocket monsters in their own vehicles — has been staggering. Nintendo got that stock value boost even though it’s just a one-third investor in Pokemon, which launched as a ’90s phenomenon, when it was trading cards and a Japanese TV series that led to regular series of animated movies.