What’s Going On With The Next Pokemon Movie?

There’s never been a film series as consistent as Pokemon. There has been a Pokemon movie released every single summer, without fail, for the past 22 years. Until last year, the longest we’ve ever had to wait for a new movie was between Arceus and the Jewel of Life in November 2009 and Zoroark—Master of Illusions in February 2011. That 14-month gap happened one other time, between The Power of Us in 2018 and Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution in 2020, but in between was Detective Pikachu – if you count that as a Pokemon movie.

The wait for the most recent Pokemon movie was longer than the movie before it. From the release of Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution in February 2020, it was almost 19 months until the release of Secrets of the Jungle in October 2021. While the US release dates have shifted around, the Japanese releases have never changed before. Every single Pokemon movie has debuted in Japan in the second week of July – all of them except Secrets of the Jungle, which released on Christmas Day 2020.

22 years of consistent releases has obviously established some expectations. Every home release has included a teaser for the next Pokemon movie for at least the last decade. Those who saw The Power of Us in theaters were even treated to a trailer for Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution. The same goes for Secrets of the Jungle. Despite the long gap between movies, we still saw a trailer for Secrets of the Jungle at the end of Mewtwo Strikes Back. For the first time in Pokemon movie history, the next Pokemon movie was not teased at the end of Secrets of the Jungle. In fact, we still have no idea what the next Pokemon movie is, or if it's ever coming out.

The Pokemon company confirmed that Secrets of the Jungle was delayed six months because of the pandemic, so it's reasonable to assume that the 24th Pokemon movie will be delayed as well. The surprising thing is that we don’t know whether or not the 24th Pokemon movie even exists. There’s been a new Pokemon movie every year for practically my entire life, but at this point it seems just as likely that there will never be another Pokemon movie.

When the X & Y generation ended in 2016, the Pokemon movies stopped following the anime completely. Rather than follow Ash to the Alola region like the show did, the film series went through a full reboot and took Ash back to the beginning of his journey in Kanto. Since then, the alternate-continuity Ash has explored new regions, made new friends, and gone on a completely separate journey than the Ash in Pokemon Sun & Moon and Pokemon Journeys – the current Sword & Shield-era season of the show. We don’t know if the next movie will continue in the alternate timeline or revert back to the original canon – if another movie is even being made at all.

The Pokemon series is in a weird place right now. The current season, Master Journeys, is coming to an end next month. The final four episodes are part of a storyline based on Pokemon Legends: Arceus, with the finale coinciding with the game’s release. If the next movie was connected to Legends: Arceus, we likely would have at least heard the title of it by now. The complete lack of information around the movie is cause for suspicion.

There are rumors that the next generation of Pokemon could start later this year. With the current season coming to an end and no new content announced for Sword & Shield, it certainly seems like a possibility. If that is the case, it’s possible that details about the next movie had to be held back in order to not ruin the surprise of the Gen 9 reveal.

It’s somewhat of a tradition for Pokemon movies to introduce new Pokemon ahead of the games. Lucario, Zaroark, Zarude, Diancie, and many others appeared in the films before they were introduced in their respective generations. If the next Pokemon movie centers around a Gen 9 Pokemon, it’s possible that details about the movie are being kept under wraps until Gen 9 is officially revealed. After all, Pokemon wouldn't want to spoil its Gen 9 announcement over a movie trailer. Normally, we would have heard about a new generation by now if it was in fact coming this year, but Legends: Arceus throws a huge wrench in the normal Pokemon calendar. Presumably, The Pokemon Company wouldn't want to put attention on the next generation until after the Legends: Arceus hype dies down.

It’s been 13 months since the release of Secrets of the Jungle. At this point, it seems like a forgone conclusion that we're currently in the longest wait between new movies once again. If we’re very lucky, the next Pokemon movie will be released this Summer ahead of Gen 9. Alternatively, it may be that The Pokemon Company is switching to a bi-annual schedule for new movies, in which case Pokemon 24 would debut in Japan this December and show up on Netflix sometime in mid-2023. The worst-case scenario is that the Pokemon film series has been quietly terminated. Perhaps new video projects like Bidoof's Big Stand and other animated shorts will take the place of the traditional feature film going forward.

The longer we wait for details, the more worrisome things get. Hopefully, we’ll get some information about Season 25 next month that will shed some light on the future of the anime. That’s if the series is even going to continue after Master Journeys, which at this point is just as much of a question mark as the next film. It would be strange for either series to end when Pokemon is so popular, but without any available information, there’s just no way to know.

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