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SYFY WIRE pokemon go

WIRE Buzz: Rian Johnson directs Pokémon commercial; Apple bites on Maurice Sendak's catalog; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Screen from Pokemon GO Fest commercial directed by Rian Johnson

From The Last Jedi to the next Jigglypuff, Rian Johnson is going Pokémon. The Star Wars veteran apparently loves Pokémon GO just like the rest of us, and to prove it, developer Niantic has just released a new promotional teaser, remotely directed by Johnson during the coronavirus lockdown.

The short clip teases the upcoming Pokémon GO Fest, an online-only event this year that’ll celebrate all things related to the go-everywhere mobile adventure. Johnson puts his creative stamp on Pokémon’s adorable monster-verse by literally peeling back the environment like paper to reveal Pikachu and other surprise guests who’ve been waiting in the wings all along. 

Johnson said via a statement at Niantic’s blog that saying “yes” to directing the 30-second clip was a no-brainer. “Pokémon GO has kept me engaged with my friends remotely as I've been practicing physical distancing these past few months,” he wrote. “As a longtime Pokémon trainer, it was a real pleasure working with Niantic on this spot. It was a new experience for me to direct a production remotely, and I enjoyed the highly collaborative process and think we put together a fun and upbeat commercial that fans will enjoy.”

Fans can catch the socially-distanced Pokémon GO Fest starting July 25, with ticket proceeds from the two-day event going to fund “new projects from Black gaming and AR creators that can live on the Niantic platform,” as well as “US nonprofit organizations that are helping local communities rebuild,” according to the Pokémon GO team.

Apple is heading to Where the Wild Things Are — literally. In a new deal that promises to bring children’s author Maurice Sendak’s colorfully imaginative creative catalog to the small screen, Apple reportedly is partnering with The Maurice Sendak Foundation to develop new TV series and specials for Apple TV+.

Via The Hollywood Reporter, the multi-year agreement gives Apple the green light to “reimagine” Sendak’s stories and characters for both series and one-off specials. Arthur Yorinks, a longtime collaborator of the late author’s, will team with Apple to develop the new streaming content under Yorinks’ Night Kitchen Studios production banner. 

Where the Wild Things Are book cover

Sendak’s extensive library of illustrated children’s stories dates all the way back to 1947 (as an illustrator for Atomics for the Millions), with his first book as both author and illustrator arriving in 1956 with Kenny’s Window. In addition to Where the Wild Things Are, which earned Sendak a Caldecott medal in 1964 and remains a picture book favorite for children worldwide, his other notable kids’ tales include In the Night Kitchen (1970), Seven Little Monsters (1977), and Outside Over There (1981).

Where the Wild Things Are has shown up in other media over the years, most notably in Spike Jonze’s 2009 live action and CGI movie adaptation. But the Apple partnership is reportedly the The Maurice Sendak Foundation’s first-ever overall deal to adapt the author’s works for streaming. There’s no early word on which of Sendak’s stories could arrive first at Apple TV+, so for now we’ll keep peeking from behind the covers for more on what (and when) to expect as those not-so-scary monsters start dancing their way to the small screen.

Who’d think Kratos could make for a patient teacher? Anyone who watched the fallen Greek hero struggle with his own hidden demons to mentor his son Atreus in Sony’s epic 2018 God of War game might think twice about learning (or re-learning) their ABCs from such a dour deity.

But it turns out even the darkest of divinities can dial back the menace, at least in this officially-licensed picture book from Insight Editions. Sony developer Santa Monica Studio, which partnered with author Andrea Robinson and illustrator Romina Tempest to help develop the book, teased out a fun video preview of God of War: B is for Boy via Twitter — pointing out, as the tongue-in-cheek clip teases, that “you can’t become a G-O-D until you learn your ABCs.”

Fortunately for timid learners, the book doesn’t look nearly as fearsome as its PlayStation 4 source material, showing a kinder, gentler Kratos mentoring Atreus down the mythic path toward literacy. Pre-orders for the father-son learning journey are already live at Amazon, ahead of the hardcover’s Sept. 1 release date.