Latest numbers have indicated that the recently released movie Detective Pikachu has grossed almost $436 million since its grand worldwide premiere last May 10, 2019. This achievement makes the movie the current record holder for the highest-grossing video game movie of all time.
According to Box Office Mojo, the values were crunched from tallying both its domestic and foreign ticket sales over two months. In the United States alone, it already almost broke even with its $150 million budget by grossing $143 million. Overseas, it managed to add even more at around $286 million during the same time, bringing it around the current total mentioned earlier.
Apart from the United States, Japan, and China, Detective Pikachu also managed to achieve high ticket sales on relatively lesser populated countries such as Argentina ($1.6 million), New Zealand ($1.6 million), Norway ($1.9 million), and Vietnam ($1.5 million). During the opening weekend alone, most of these countries even grossed at almost half the amount of the currently tallied total each respective region.
In the United States, the movie premiered to $20.7 million earnings on the very first day, eventually grossing to $54 million during the next several days. This was just second to highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, which premiered only a month prior.
The previous contender for the highest-grossing video game film of all time was Warcraft. Premiered in 2016, it earned a total of $47 million in the United States, and $386 million at the international box office, with a total of $433 million worldwide. This is despite having mixed to generally negative reviews from most of its critics.
It is also notable mention that the stated $433 million is the current total since it was premiered three years ago, whereas Detective Pikachu already surpassed it by around $3 million more on its second month.
Detective Pikachu tells the story of former Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith, and the unusually gruff, but very chatty Detective Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds. Together, they attempt to complete the puzzle surrounding the mysterious circumstances of the apparent death of Tim’s father.
Even before the movie was released, Detective Pikachu has already received a lot of buzz from many different media outlets. The reception was generally positive from a wide variety of audiences, with similar positive reactions from the critics themselves. One of the most praised things about the film is how Pokémon, which are visually designed straight for 2D cartoon-like settings, were able to seamlessly integrate themselves into the real world with just minor tweaks in their overall design.
Ryan Reynold’s performance as the eponymous Detective Pikachu was also highly lauded, as it provided the necessary distinction to an otherwise already generic type of Pokémon within its lore and universe.
Lastly, the movie adaptation was also able to convey an interesting story that stays true to its own franchise. This is as opposed to many, many other failed video game movies that, instead of being treated as directly related titles, were presented with heavy priority on promotion or advertising.
Take note that the term “video game movie” typically refers to derivative, often live-action, adaptations of video game titles that are not meant to be directly canon to the original franchise. For example, the Assassin’s Creed (2016), or the all-time favorite classic Mortal Kombat (1995). This does NOT include extended titles that either developed or continued with the original game.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, for example, is NOT what you typically refer to a “video game movie,” even though technically it is a film directly related to a video game.
So, what does the massive success of Detective Pikachu tells us about the future of video games in the film? As mentioned, movies adapted from game titles have traditionally been panned or reviewed negatively, due to either missing the important core elements of that franchise, or just plain ignoring what the original game really is.
It is hoped that this film should be taken as a good example. A specimen that future video game film executives and producers can look at, in order for them to finally prioritize what a franchise’s long-time dedicated fans would really appreciate.