Even when facing the competition of Avengers: Endgame, Detective Pikachu was still able to catch them all in his own right, earning a very healthy $58 million, Box Office Mojo is reporting. Though not quite enough to take the top spot away from Endgame (more on that later), it beat studio projections by more than $15 million, and was also the best debut ever for a video game adaptation.
Of course, it wasn’t only the video game franchise that Detective Pikachu was banking from, but the massively successful anime series as well, which it mined heavily for many of its pocket monster stars. To go back in time to the year 1999 for a moment, the original Pokemon: The First Movie was a breakout hit when it opened in mid-November, premiering to an extremely impressive $50 million over its first five days of release. To clarify, that was nearly 20 years ago, when movie tickets cost about half as much as they do today, and just goes to show how phenomenally popular Pokemon when it was new, as the kid-friendly film saw itself opening to sold-out screenings on school nights. With a total of $85 million, Pokemon: The First Movie remains the highest grossing anime film of all time in the states. Almost certainly because of this, Detective Pikachu teased Mewtwo–a central character of the first Pokemon flick–heavily in the previews.
But it wasn’t only the nostalgia factor that helped Detective Pikachu out. Warner Bros. ran a terrific marketing campaign, with very funny trailers emphasizing that the comedy would work for both newcomers and longtime fans. The casting of Ryan Reynolds as the titular Pokemon was also crucial, providing just enough of an edge factor while still keeping everything family-friendly. Globally, Detective Pikachu has made $170 million so far.
Meanwhile, Avengers: Endgame continued its absolutely astonishing run, though thanks to Detective Pikachu it got a small taste of reality. Earning $62 million, the film now has a total of–wait for it–$723 million, surpassing Black Panther to become the biggest superhero movie ever. It’s also the third highest grossing film of all time in the states now, behind only Avatar ($760 million) and The Force Awakens ($936 million). Endgame should be able to beat the monumental James Cameron epic next weekend, but topping The Force Awakens will be a bit more of a challenge. The much-hyped John Wick: Chapter 3 opens next week, which will take up a good portion of the action movie crowd, and after that Disney’s own Aladdin opens, so it will be interesting to see where Endgame ultimately lands as it ranks itself among the most impressive box office champions ever made. Worldwide, Endgame has made $2.4 billion to date.
Final figures are due today.