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Pokémon: The Future or End of the $110 Billion Franchise




Pokémon is without a doubt one of the biggest franchises in the world and currently stands as the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, having generated $110 billion in revenue. Starting in 1996 as a pair of video games in Japan for the Gameboy, the series blew up; by the time the video and card game series arrived in North America in 1998, it had become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Pokémon spawned a popular manga and anime series, one that still runs to this very day in the same continuity.

The first three films based on the anime were box office sensations, with Pokémon: The First Movie still holding the record for the biggest anime opening weekend in North America. The series continued with multiple video games, introducing new Pokémon for each console and for new generations to come on board the series, and as of this writing, there are 913 species of Pokémon.

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Even after its initial popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s began to wane, it remained a pop culture fixture, with the franchise’s mascot Pikachu being a signature balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The second wave of nostalgia hit in time to celebrate the franchise’s 20th anniversary. When Pokémon Go was released on mobile devices on July 6, 2016, became one of the most popular apps of the year and was downloaded more than 500 million times worldwide by the end of 2016. The increased popularity led to studios bidding on a live-action Pokémon movie, which resulted in the 2019 release of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.

In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pokémon cards became an in-demand collectible item once again, with stores selling out quickly and sometimes leading to violent altercations over them. The franchise even generated a special Pokémon 25 soundtrack album celebrating the franchise’s 25th anniversary with an original song ‘Electric’ by Katy Perry. With popular video games and multiple films including a live-action entry, a still-running animated series, a card game, and more, are there any areas of pop culture left for Pokémon to conquer? Where does this franchise even go? Here are a few unexplored areas for the $100 billion franchise.

Pokémon has been a popular staple on television for over 20 years, with the animated series being the first exposure to many audience members. Multiple incarnations of the animated series have existed but one area that has yet to be conquered is live-action television. While a live-action feature film was made in the form of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, the franchise has been at its most popular in an episodic format.

Related: Pokemon: What Netflix’s Live-Action Series Needs to Get Right

With how large-scale television has gotten in recent years, with major properties like the MCU, Star Wars, and now Lord of the Rings bringing their larger-than-life and fantastical worlds into people’s homes through streaming series, a live-action Pokémon could become a similar sensation the property experienced prior. It could attract original viewers who get to see more of their favorite characters realized in live-action as well as new younger audiences, and could become a must-watch for families.