Detective Pikachu, the live-action mystery movie from director Rob Letterman and Warner Bros. Pictures, has surpassed Duncan Jones’ Warcraft as the highest-grossing video game film of all time with $436 million in worldwide ticket sales.
Warcraft, produced by Legendary Pictures (the same company that made Detective Pikachu) and based on the Blizzard Entertainment fantasy franchise, was the previous record-holder since 2016, when it ousted Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with its $433 million worldwide gross. Warcraft’s success at the time was largely thanks to an enormous marketing campaign in China that translated to then-record overseas ticket sales.
However, neither of those films came close to Detective Pikachu’s critical reception. Not only is the film — starring Justice Smith as a lapsed pokémon trainer teaming up with a talking pikachu partner voiced by Ryan Reynolds — the highest-earning video game film ever, it’s also the best received.
Detective Pikachu currently holds a 67 percent fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com, beating out 2018’s Rampage starring Dwayne Johnson, which has a 52 percent rating alongside Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider reboot. (Warcraft has an abysmal 26 percent, while Prince of Persia has a 37 percent rating.)
That’s good news for Nintendo, game studio Game Freak, and merchandising and licensing company Creatures, all three of which have equal stakes in the Pokémon franchise. The film itself was based on a 2016 Nintendo 3DS game of the same name developed by Creatures, which occasionally develops video games in addition to overseeing the Pokémon card game, toy lines, and various other media properties. It was published by the three companies’ joint entity, The Pokémon Company, with Nintendo handling distribution.
The end result of that complex corporate structure is that everyone won out when both the game and the film became commercial successes. So it makes perfect sense that Warner Bros. and Legendary are now looking to make a sequel.