- Ryan Reynolds, star of the upcoming "Pokémon Detective Pikachu," shared a tweet with a link to a YouTube video that claims to contain the full contents of the movie hitting theaters on May 10.
- The actor, who voices the titular computer-generated creation, tagged the official Twitter accounts for "Pokémon Detective Pikachu" and Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, to point them to a "leak" posted on the page of an account called Inspector Pikachu.
- The YouTube video runs an hour and 42 minutes — roughly the official length of "Detective Pikachu" — and begins with the official Warner Bros. and Legendary logos before playing what could be the actual opening shot of the film. The video then quickly cuts to Detective Pikachu dancing in a studio to '80s-inspired tunes for the rest of the runtime.
Warner Bros. is tapping into Reynolds' star power and large social media following to boost online chatter ahead of the wide release of "Detective Pikachu" this weekend. The promotional strategy appears to be paying off: The goof "leak" of the film, which mirrors online pranks like "rickrolling," where the title of the video tricks viewers into clicking and surprises them with a cheesy music video, has at press time gone viral with north of 4.5 million hits.
The tactic shows how traditional Hollywood studios are thinking differently about how they leverage actors and celebrities, not just as box office draws for their productions, but also as influencers in the age of social media. Reynolds has been a standout example of this, having engaged in similar strategies to market other starring vehicles like the "Deadpool" series. Test footage from the first "Deadpool," which became integral to selling Fox on the film thanks to its positive fan response, similarly leaked early online — a development that Reynolds pleaded the fifth to being involved in, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Warner Bros. likely wants to put as much momentum as possible behind "Detective Pikachu" as the picture debuts during a crowded box office season and will go up against Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Endgame," which has the potential to break global box office records following its April 26 release. "Detective Pikachu" wields some advantages, namely in being the first live-action feature length film attached to the highly lucrative, enduring Pokémon franchise.
Consumer interest in the movie has appeared to bolster the strength of the Pokémon brand in other areas. "Pokémon Go," the Ninantic-developed mobile app that's largely credited with helping to bring augmented reality into the mainstream, saw its global revenue rise 15% year-on-year to $65 million in April, according to data from Sensor Tower. The app recently added in-game content to promote "Detective Pikachu," including a feature where Reynold's cap-wearing character photo-bombs the user.