Pokémon: Detective Pikachu did the thing. Those heralding HBO’s The Last of Us as finally lifting the “video game adaptation curse” must forget Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2019 release, which brought the Pokémon game franchise to live-action for the first time, and to the tune of positive reviews and $430 million worldwide. (Though in fairness to the critics, most things before March 2020 are a bit of a blur.) Overflowing with Pokémon of every type, director Rob Letterman’s movie would seem like an obvious candidate for a bigger, battle-heavier sequel in the vein of the games — the ending’s Ryan Reynolds twist be damned.
But years later, even after announcing a sequel before the original movie’s release, a Pokémon: Detective Pikachu 2 is nowhere to be seen. Is everyone’s favorite furry electric pal down for the count or preparing for his next battle?
According to a representative for Legendary Entertainment, the project is still “in active development,” but they could not confirm who was currently working on it. The Pokémon Company declined to comment when Polygon asked about its involvement with the development of the film or other projects that may have spun off since the release of the first Detective Pikachu.
In a recent conversation for their animated series Koala Man, Detective Pikachu writers Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez suggested they were not involved, but would love to be.
“It’s an ongoing conversation that is still not over to this day,” Samit said, adding that the situation was “complicated” and involved “a lot of big studio, corporate Pokémon rights things that we’re not privy to.”
When Legendary made the pre-release announcement in January 2019 that Detective Pikachu 2 was already in development, Oren Uziel, who had then written 22 Jump Street and a draft of Sonic the Hedgehog, was the one trying to catch the perfect Pikachu sequel idea. But representatives for Uziel tell Polygon that though he wrote an outline and screenplay for the movie, he is no longer working on the film and it’s unclear who has taken over.
In 2021, Detective Pikachu star Justice Smith was not optimistic about a sequel’s fate.
“I would love to participate in Detective Pikachu 2,” he told Inverse while promoting his HBO Max series Generation. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I think we have to just kind of bury our hopes. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I really hope so though. Honestly, I’m such a huge fan, who knows, who knows? I hope so.”
But as Samit suggests, there may be larger corporate hurdles now in play. In June 2021, news broke that Netflix was in development on a live-action Pokémon series, a logical next step to the streamer’s relationship with The Pokémon Company, which allows previous seasons of the Pokémon anime to live on the platform. And perhaps in more seismic events, November 2022 saw Legendary Entertainment sign a worldwide film distribution partnership with Sony Pictures, ending the long run with Warner Bros. Pictures. While Legendary and WB will continue to work together on a few ongoing franchises like Dune and the Godzilla/King Kong “Monster-verse,” it’s unclear whether a Detective Pikachu 2 (which WB co-financed) would move forward in the same way or be a victim of new relationships.
The word everyone comes back to is hope. For Samit and Hernandez, they’d settle for just watching it in the audience.
“Whether it’s us or someone else that takes up the mantle, we hope it happens because we love it,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s still a TBD, but... there’s hope.”
What the future holds for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu and fans dreaming of another round of live-action Poké-fun is unclear. But the good news is there’s a new Detective Pikachu game on the horizon. Announced in [checks notes] 2019? With no updates since? Another mystery is afoot...
Update (March 3): Legendary Entertainment has reportedly hired Jonathan Krisel, co-creator of the IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia and the FX series Baskets, to direct Pokémon: Detective Pikachu 2, with Chris Galletta (The Kings of Summer) on scripting duties.