In April 2018, we visited the set of the Pokémon Detective Pikachu movie and spoke with the producer, Cale Boyter, about what factors lead to live-action Pokémon movie finally coming into existence. The film was announced near the height of Pokémon Go’s popularity, so the obvious assumption was that its popularity was what made Hollywood finally see the Pokémon property as a viable franchise worth adapting.
“It’s so funny because everyone assumes that Pokémon Go happened and that’s when we wanted the rights to Pokémon, but we’ve been in talks and trying to get to Pokémon for over five years now,” Boyter says. “It was wonderful. It was a great coincidence that Pokémon Go happened, and it just so happened that that’s when we were finally figuring out the rights, but really it was driven by we love Pokémon and tempering the live action world was just this huge opportunity that had never happened.”
If anything, it was the release of the Detective Pikachu video game that pushed the live-action Pokémon movie into existence. “It has been a dream project of ours for a long time, Boyter says, “I think Detective Pikachu is the why now. It really provided for us a great way into a live action version of this world.” Boyter and the team at Legendary Pictures saw the Detective Pikachu’s father-son story as an easy in for telling a story with some emotion to it. “It felt very relatable. There was a way into it that people were going to connect with, and it got us really, really excited,” Boyter says. The Pokémon Company also felt it was the right opportunity. “They know it better than anyone in the world and I think, smartly, they really felt like we need to do this and we need to take that leap at the right moment and we all agreed that Detective Pikachu gave us that.”
For more from our time on the set of Pokémon Detective Pikachu, you can head here to read the cast and director’s personal histories with Pokémon and here to read about the producer’s thoughts on potentially casting Danny DeVito. You can also read an extended feature all about the visit in the upcoming May issue of the magazine.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is coming to theaters on May 10.