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Report: Pokémon live-action movie rights at center of Hollywood bidding war

Who will play Pikachu on the big screen?

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Multiple movie studios are battling for the rights to turn Pokémon into a live-action movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A "top-secret auction" is reportedly coming to a close, with Chinese, Japanese and U.S.-based film companies vying to bring Pokémon to the big screen.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Warner Bros., Sony and Legendary — which is producing the upcoming Warcraft film — are all interested in the Pokémon franchise. THR notes that if Legendary walks away the winner — the studio is reportedly trying to "nudge" out Warner Bros. — a Chinese-owned company would own movie rights to a Japanese brand, which could stoke cultural tensions between the two countries.

Nintendo, which co-owns The Pokémon Company, said in 2014 that it planned to actively expand its licensing business and bring its characters to "areas Nintendo has never worked before."

To date, The Pokémon Company has produced more than 18 animated movies and feature-length television specials based on the Pokémon franchise. Pokémon celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

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