'Pokémon: Detective Pikachu' Director on Why Only 54 Out of 800 Pocket Monsters Appear

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures first live-action Pokémon film is about to open worldwide, and there are some burning questions fans seem to have about the pocket monsters movie, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.

27 Photos from 'Pokémon: Detective Pikachu'

Entertainment Tonight spoke with director Rob Letterman about the release, and there were some surprising answers. Like why only a fraction of the existing pokédex entries were included when there are so many to chose from.

EW: Do you know the total number of Pokémon included in the movie?

Letterman: I don't. I know approximately. I'd hate to get this wrong because I do feel like people are going to start counting them. And how terrible if I had it off? It's around 54. But I don't know the exact, exact number. And there's over 800 Pokémon in the Pokédex, but we ran out of money around 54. [Laughs]

EW: Of course, the story dictates some of the Pokémon involved, but how do you go about picking the others that build out this world, that you maybe only see in passing?

Letterman: The Detective Pikachu game had a certain grouping that was already baked in. And then for the reasoning that we were just talking about, we went to the first generation Pokémon, the fan favorites, because we wanted to put in the Pokémon that people in their twenties and thirties would remember, the ones they grew up on, the nostalgia of that.

So, there was that whole grouping, and then we worked really closely with The Pokémon Company throughout the whole process of making the movie but especially in crafting the characters and getting those right. Erik Nordby, our visual effects supervisor, myself, and The Pokémon Company, we kind of combed through the list and tried to pull out the ones that we thought we could do a really great job bringing into the photoreal, CGI world.

And, how about the notable abcense of well-known human characters from the animated franchise like Brock, Misty, and Team Rocket?

EW: Were there conversations about tying this movie more closely to the Kanto region? Or giving any more obvious tips of the hat to the stories of Ash or Misty or Brock?

Letterman: Yeah. I mean, we do that in the movie. We do mention Kanto region on purpose. We do a lot of things to tie us into the rest of the Pokémon universe, so it's all one cohesive world. So, we mention Kanto region. Having Mewtwo in the movie, just in and of itself, connects all the dots. Even the battle posters in Tim's bedroom are all nods to the rest of the Pokémon storyline.

EW: But it never went as far as, Let's get a cameo from Team Rocket in here?

Letterman: No, no. The Pokémon Company were pretty specific about wanting to invest in building out Rhyme City as its new region and not undercut Tim Goodwin and Detective Pikachu's storyline.


Before the film opened, there was chatter that Legendary and WB were already working on a sequel, to launch a full live-action Pokémon cinematic universe. So, chances are we may possibly see some of those missing elements later down the line.

About Mary Anne Butler

Bleeding Cool News Editor Mary Anne Butler (Mab, for short) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), and most recently Bleeding Cool.

Over the past 10 years, she’s built a presence at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). 

Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. 

Though she be but little, she is fierce. #MabTheProfessional

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