TOKYO — Japanese distribution and exhibition giant Toho is hoping that the global craze for the Pokemon Go augmented reality game will boost the fortunes of its “Pokemon” movie franchise. Toho will open the 19th movie in the series on Saturday.
“Pokémon the Movie XY&Z: Volcanion and the Exquisite Magearna,” follows the 2015 film “Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages,” whose $25 million take was the lowest in the series.
Toho has not yet released a box office forecast for the new film, but with interest in the two-decade-old franchise at a fresh high, frustrated Japanese gamers may flock to theaters to get their Pokemon fix. Pokemon Go is not available in Japan yet.
The global game furor has lifted the stock price of game company Nintendo by 70% this week to JPY27,780 per share. That is a JPY1.5 trillion ($14 billion) increase in market capitalization since July 6.
Financial analysts have expressed doubts about the game’s actual contributions to Nintendo’s coffers. Nintendo owns a 32% stake in The Pokemon Company, the Tokyo-based company that manages Pokemon businesses worldwide and published Pokemon Go. The game was developed by Niantic, a San Francisco-based game developer in which Nintendo also has a stake, together with Google, The Pokemon Company and other investors.
While Nintendo had recently been struggling to keep up with the shift from consoles to smartphones, the value of the company’s iconic franchises, including “Super Mario” and “The Legend of Zelda,” has given investors visions of further smartphone riches.