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‘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.”

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

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