By Amanda L. Kondolojy
But the early Pokémon empire was not quite finished yet. A little more than a year after the first Game Boy games were released, the first Pokémon Movie came out. Pokémon: The First Movie focused on the relationship between the 150th Pokémon, Mewtwo and Mew. It was a huge box office success and made $163 million at the end of its box office run, making it the highest grossing anime film to date. The first movie was quickly followed up by Pokémon: The Movie 2000, which was not as successful as the first release but still made an impressive $133 million at the end of its box office run.
Pokémon's success right from the beginning was mainly due to its presence in not one, but four, media elements-on TV, in the theatres, on your card table, and most importantly, on your video game hardware. All four of these elements worked very well early on in Pokémon's history in terms of saturation. No matter where you looked in the late 90s Pokémon seemed to be there. "Gotta catch 'em all" became an obsession, not only for people who were into video games but also for those who enjoyed anime or trading card games.
As fans became more and more immersed in the Pokémon franchise, they found themselves venturing out of their comfort zone in order to become more engrossed in this new fandom. Anime fans who had never touched a video game were playing religiously, and trading card gamers who never thought they would ever watch an anime suddenly found themselves tuning in on a regular basis. Pokémon was truly becoming a global phenomenon.
The Pokémon franchise started strong in the late nineties and carried that momentum right into the new century. Late 2000 saw the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver, which represented the evolution of the RPG series from Blue and Red. Pokémon Silver and Gold featured 100 new Pokémon, as well as several more advanced gameplay featured. The game featured a real-time clock and had several real-time events that only took place during a certain day of the week or time of day. Gold and Silver also included a breeding system, which made for a considerable gain for the series depth-wise.
Aside from the follow up to the RPG game, Pokémon Stadium also received an update. However, this title followed the formula set down in the first one, and aside from some new mini-games and an updated Pokémon roster, it was largely the same as the first one.
During this period, the Pokémon series went into a bit of a slow period. This wasn't necessarily bad, however, after the fever pitch of the preceding two years. Many people had begun to experience a Pokémon backlash, where they just felt sick of seeing the franchise everywhere.
Three more movies came out during this period, Pokémon 3: Spell of the Unown. The movie performed quite poorly compared to the previous two entries. It only garnered about $63 million worldwide, about half the total of the previous movie. The next two movies, Pokémon 4Ever and Pokémon Heroes, were box office flops, with the former making about $1 million at the domestic box office and the latter making a measly $700,000 domestic showing.