DETECTIVE PIKACHU starring Ryan Reynolds (2019)
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At a time when Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame is still the boss at the B.O. with a running global total of $2.27 billion, Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros.’ Pokémon Detective Pikachu is looking to push his way in, and grab as much as he can with a $50M–$55M domestic opening weekend at 4,200-plus theaters and another $90M-$120M offshore for an average global launch near $160M+.

 

The tracking for Pikachu in the U.S. and abroad has raised the eyebrows of many rival distribution executives, with many bracing for a surprise. While it skews family, the hope is that it plays broader, à la Shazam! However, there is a fandom for Pokemon cemented in recent years by the success of the Pokemon Go mobile app game. In addition, the film’s awareness has been further heightened by the comedic attitude of Deadpool‘s Ryan Reynolds (albeit in a PG tone).

 

Internationally, Pikachu will release in 62 markets through Friday (Russia is not in the opening suite). The film directed by Rob Letterman bowed early in Japan last weekend, grossing $6.9M locally, though this is not necessarily an indicator market. Despite the popularity of the Pokémon brand in Japan, Pikachu is not expected to overindex there. Part of the reason is that an animated Pokémon pic comes out every year in July, having done so since 1998. While the new movie is a live-action hybrid, the market is more in tune with this as a children’s property. There’s also the issue that Hollywood adaptations of Japanese source material can be a tough sell.

 

China is where Pikachu should take off this weekend, with estimates ranging from $40M-$60M locally. Early Middle Kingdom reaction has been positive, although there are no social scores yet. One codicil here is that we hear some of the big chains are not giving the movie an abundance of showtimes and are treating it more like an animated opening thus evening shows might be hindered. However, with the backing of Legendary on this estimated $150M production, there is some local brawn. Of course, there’s also still the Endgame factor, even though the Disney/Marvel juggernaut has naturally slowed this week.

 

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So with Shazam the jokes were too childish. But with Detective Pikachu...

I would not want to be a studio regional analyst trying to figure this market out.

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B- but very entertaining

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3.75/5.0 overall

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Looks like Metacritic went up - not down. Even though the middle-ranking critics results increasing.

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Legendary and Warner Bros.' $150 million-budgeted Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the title character and Justice Smith as the human protagonist, topped the Friday box office, earning $20.7 million. That includes $5.7 million in Thursday previews. Whether or not it tops Walt Disney's Avengers: Endgame for the weekend, it has the best Thursday preview gross and the best Friday/opening day gross for any video game flick. It is just a bit larger than the $18 million opening day of Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider from back in 2001. With a likely over/under $55 million weekend, it should open well above Tomb Raider’s $47 million Fri-Sun opening frame.

 

That would give Pokémon: Detective Pikachu the biggest opening weekend ever for a video game movie. Adjusted for inflation, Tomb Raider’s opening day (in a time way before 3-D or PLF auditoriums) would be $28 million. Its $47 million Fri-Sun opening weekend would be $75 million adjusted. If Detective Pikachu can open above $55 million, it’ll be past the inflation-adjusted debuts of both Mortal Kombat ($23 million in 1995/$48 million adjusted) and Pokémon: The First Movie ($31 million Fri-Sun/$51 million Wed-Sun in 1999/$55 million and $90 million adjusted). Inflation and 3-D bumps should be taken into account, but it should also be noted that Avengers: Endgame kept most of the biggest and best auditoriums this weekend.

 

However, if the kid-friendly comedic fantasy legs it like Kong: Skull Island, then we’re looking at a $63 million opening. The other issue, at least in terms of why it didn’t explode this weekend, is that this may be a case where general audience curiosity and online interest didn’t quite over-index in terms of consumer activity.

 

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu earned another $5.3 million on Tuesday, bringing its five-day domestic total to $63.404 million. That’s a 45% jump from Monday, which is pretty good even if you note the sharp 72% drop from Sunday to Monday. By the way, the film’s weekend totals came in $3.5 million below the estimate, giving the movie not a $58 million debut but a $54.4 million launch.  That’s only a 6% difference, but the optics were not good, and the final figure put it below the inflation-adjusted Fri-Sun opening frame ($31 million in 1999/$55 million adjusted) of Pokémon: The First Movie. With $63.404 million in five days, the Ryan Reynolds/Justice Smith flick is already the eighth-biggest video game movie of all time.

 

If it ends the week with a 1.31x weekend-to-seven-day-total multiplier (about on par with Troy, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The Great Gatsby, all WB flicks which opened on this same weekend), then Detective Pikachu will enter its second domestic weekend with over/under $70 million. And it’ll quickly pass the unadjusted $70.45 million total of Mortal Kombat (in 1995) on Friday to become the sixth-biggest video game movie in unadjusted domestic earnings. Even if it drops by 50% this weekend, it’ll end the tenth day with $97 million. That would put it just below Rampage ($101 million in 2018), The Angry Birds Movie ($107.5 million in 2016) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($131.1 million in 2001) among video game flicks.

 

Here’s the thing: It is entirely possible that Detective Pikachu will play like Avengers: Endgame in one weird respect. It may or may not outgross Warcraft ($433 million in 2016, with $218 million in China) to become the biggest video game movie of all time. That’s more likely than not, but that soft $41 million opening in China complicates things. However, it will almost certainly breach the seemingly harder milestone, since it lasted for 18 years, of becoming the biggest video game movie ever in North America. Conversely, Avengers: Endgame might top the seemingly unsinkable Avatar worldwide but won’t get close to Force Awakens’ domestic total. None of this accounts for inflation, but that’s for another paragraph.

 

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I forgot this exists.

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Still going.

 

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