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Pokemon Live-Action Movie a Go at Legendary

Legendary Entertainment has won the rights to a Pokemon movie and is partnering with the Pokémon Company to launch the first live-action Pokemon film franchise with a “Detective Pikachu” movie.

Legendary said details are being kept under wraps but added that the film will be fast-tracked for production to start in 2017. Detective Pikachu is a new character in the Pokemon universe, introduced through a video game in Japan.

The deal comes two weeks after the Pokemon Go app game was released and became a worldwide phenomenon, so much so that it led to a 25% jump in the stock of part owner Nintendo. The augmented reality game allows players to capture, battle and train the Pokemon virtual creatures.

Pokémon was introduced in Japan in 1996 and has sold 279 million video games worldwide with 21.5 billion cards shipped to 74 countries, and an animated series spanning 19 seasons. The hugely popular Pokemon Go app recently saw the pocket monsters surge back into the pop culture consciousnesses.

Universal Pictures will handle distribution of the live-action film outside Japan as it has done with Legendary’s other films for years.

The Pokémon Company’s long time movie collaborator, Toho, will handle distribution of the film franchise in Japan, as it had similarly done in its partnership with Legendary on the reboot for the Godzilla franchise.

Legendary was acquired in January by Chinese entertainment giant Wanda for $3.5 billion. The Pokemon movie deal is the third major project it’s acquired in less than a month, following the June 23 purchase of “Bad Blood,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, and an untitled project set up this week for “The Birth of a Nation” producer-director Nate Parker.

The Pokemon deal was brokered by Don McGowan at The Pokémon Company International, who led the negotiations with outside counsel Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig. Marty Willhite, Daniel Feinberg and Mike Ross represented the studio.

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