×

‘Get Down’ Star Justice Smith Lands Lead in Live-Action ‘Pokemon’ Movie for Legendary (EXCLUSIVE)

Legendary has tapped breakout talent Justice Smith to star in the first-ever live-action “Pokemon” film titled “Detective Pikachu,” based on the titular character, sources tell Variety.

Rob Letterman is on board to direct from a script by Nicole Perlman and Alex Hirsch.

First introduced in Japan in 1996, Pokemon has spawned more than 295 million video games sold worldwide, 23.6 billion TCG cards shipped to 74 countries, and an animated series spanning 20 seasons. The hugely popular “Pokemon Go” app saw the pocket monsters surge back into the pop culture consciousnesses last year.

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 “Godzilla.”

Smith recently broke out on the Netflix musical drama series “The Get Down” after director Baz Luhrmann handpicked him to star in the series that he created and exec produced. While the series wasn’t picked up for a second season, Smith’s performance caught the eye of Universal and director J.A. Bayona, who tapped him for one of the new leads in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

Popular on Variety

He also recently finished filming on MGM’s “Every Day.” He is represented by WME, the Kohl Group, and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

More Film

  • Jumbo

    'Jumbo': Film Review

    Tall, dark and handsome? The crush that Noémie Merlant’s character, Jeanne, explores in “Jumbo” is one out of three: a 25-foot-tall carnival ride who seduces the amusement park janitor as she spit-cleans his bulbs. During the night shift, Jumbo literally lights up Jeanne’s life, and while he’s not handsome in the traditional sense — especially [...]

  • Ironbark

    'Ironbark': Film Review

    Movie spies typically fall into one of two categories. There are the butterflies — flamboyant secret agents like James Bond or “Atomic Blonde” who behave as conspicuously as possible. And then there are the moth-like kind, who do their best to blend in. The character Benedict Cumberbatch plays in “Ironbark” belongs to the latter variety, [...]

  • Miss Juneteenth review

    'Miss Juneteenth': Film Review

    “Miss Juneteenth” richly captures the slow pace of ebbing small-town Texas life, even if you might wish there were a bit more narrative momentum to pick up the slack in writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples’ first feature. She’s got a very relatable heroine in Nicole Beharie’s Turquoise, an erstwhile local beauty queen whose crown proved the [...]

  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always

    'Never Rarely Sometimes Always': Film Review

    The basic plot of “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is easy enough to describe. A 17-year-old girl named Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) winds up pregnant in a small Pennsylvania town. Prevented from seeking an abortion by the state’s parental consent laws, she takes off for New York City with her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder), where what they’d [...]

  • Kathy Valentine, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin,

    The Go-Go's on Sundance Doc: Neither 'America's Sweethearts' Nor 'Drug-Crazed Demons'

    Some people might come to a Go-Go’s documentary wanting a purely fun, bubbly experience, based on the effervescence the group projected at its breakthrough peak in the early ’80s. Others might want a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll tell-all, if they’re aware of the tensions and bad habits that led the all-female band to [...]

  • 'The Dissident' Review: Powerful Look at

    'The Dissident': Film Review

    It’s become common, if not cliché, for a critic reviewing a documentary about a turbulent real-world event to write something like, “It exerts the power of a true-life thriller!” Well, make no mistake: “The Dissident” does. Directed by Bryan Fogel, who in 2017 made the Oscar-winning “Icarus” (about the Russian doping of Olympic athletes), the [...]

  • Cathy Yan, Chris Messina, Mary Elizabeth

    Margot Robbie, 'Birds of Prey' Co-Stars Justify the Movie’s R-Rating, Violence and Cussing

    Following the success of “Joker” last year, DC Films is continuing its gritty streak with “Birds of Prey,” a slam-bang adventure about Harley Quinn. Though DC Film’s 2016 tentpole “Suicide Squad” took a critical bashing at the time, filmgoers quickly took a liking to Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. “Birds of Prey” gives the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content