Ever since its home network premiere in 1997, just over a year after the Nintendo Gameboy titles it was based on were released, the “Pokémon” anime series has inspired children in Japan and the rest of the world to want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Interest in the monster-catching franchise arose for every new game, and new anime season or film. In 2016 it got a huge boost from Niantic’s mobile spinoff “Pokémon GO,” and in 2019 it proved to work in live-action with Legendary Pictures’ “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.” So how about a live-action series, streaming on Netflix to boot?
The Hollywood Reporter tells us that a live-action series based on the massive “Pokémon” franchise is being considered for development at global streaming giant Netflix. Brainstorming on the project began about a month ago according to inside sources, with the plans being forwarded by Joe Henderson, show-runner of DC-based urban fantasy superhero series “Lucifer,” formerly on Fox and currently on Netflix where its sixth and final season is soon to premiere. No further details are available beyond that work on conceptualizing the series has already begun, and Netflix themselves have no comment on the matter.
Several factors may have led to the possible development of a live-action “Pokémon” series for the streaming giant. First, the Netflix anime library already contains several seasons of the long-running anime. Next, as Henderson had originally come over to Netflix from Fox with the “Lucifer” series, the streaming platform might hope to keep him on as a show-runner for new original content, more so if it ties up a major IP like “Pokémon” and its rights owners to work with Netflix. They have recently announced development of other live-action adaptations of videogames – mostly mature titles – and a live-action “Pokémon” show might just balance the demographics.
In fact, Joe Henderson already has a Netflix project lined up since March this year, another adaptation of a comic-book titled “Shadecraft,” which he himself wrote alongside Lee Garbet providing the artwork. Even as “Lucifer” completes its series run once its final season premieres on Netflix this coming September, a working creative partnership between him and the major streaming giant would have already been formed.
The first live-action foray of “Pokémon,” 2019’s “Detective Pikachu” movie, managed to pull a box office coup of $430 million against a $150 million budget, proving that mixing live-action actors with CGI Pokémon can work to the audience’s approval. Such effects may be a degree more complex perhaps that what “Lucifer” has, but one never knows. A series premiering on Netflix might just soften the blow should the planned “Detective Pikachu” sequel fails to materialize.