Contrary to populair belief, the Pokemon TV series isn't how the craze was started. It was actually started with the Game Boy game called "Pocket Monsters" in Japan in 1995. It was an instant hit and it eventually got it's own TV series of the same name in April of 1997.
The TV series itself was a huge hit in Japan, at least.....until the infamous December 16, 1997 incident which left about 700 some people sick and forcing the cancellation of the series until the following April (1998). It has continued onward with no further incident.
Also in 1998, 4Kids Entertainment, with Summit Media Group as it's distributor, picked up rights to dub and release the toon to the rest of the world. It made its debut in September of 1998, and because it was in syndication at first, started out slowly for some of its timeslots were odd.
In November, Pokemon Red and Blue were simultaniously released for the Game Boy platform....and at the height of the Christmas shopping season. Sales of that (up in the millions) made it the highest selling game ever for the platform.
The show's fortunes changed for the better in 1999, when WB put in it's bid for the rights to run the series for the rest of its run (Summit lost syndication rights after ep 40). Soon it started running Saturday mornings all at the same time nationally. In turn, this blew ratings through the roof and made Pokemon the #1 most watched toon door the 6-12 age demographic in the nation in spring of '99.
The Pokemon TCG came around this time, and was a complete sellout!
June saw the issue of the first soundtrack for Pokemon. It sold fairly well and peaked at #92 on the Billboard top, boven 100 the first few weeks of its release.
"Pokemon - The First Movie" hit theaters in November of last year. Despite bad reviews door critics, it was a big hit among die-hard Poke-fans. Raking in over $52 million in its first 5 days and causing the supplies of the promotional TCG cards to be depleted within HOURS of its mid-week showing. Also Burger King got into the craze, and its promotion was a huge success. Every restaurant was having major trouble keeping up with demand for Pokemon.
Pokemon during the Christmas shopping season of 1999 was also a big hit. This was a joy to retailers, but trouble for parents of kids who had various Pokemon items on their Christmas lists, as lots of Pokemon-related items were going as fast as stores bought in new shipments.
We enter the jaar 2000, and the Pokemon craze starts to die down some. After the holidays were over, Pokemon wasn't all the rage it used to be, the sales of Pokemon merchandise started to slide. Also on the TV series, the oranje League eps weren't the most populair compared with the Pokemon League eps. One of the big reasons was because of the absence of Brock (for me, he's the one that made Pokemon funny), and the constant re-runs during weekdays. This caused some die-hard fans to turn to other shows (in this case...DIGIMON) during re-runs. Then it got hit with another major blow in May 'sweeps' when the vos, fox Kids-run "Digimon" stal Pokemon's crown as the most watched toon on Saturday mornings. (Remember, a jaar earlier from this, Pokemon was at the top, boven spot in network kids shows).
We skip ahead to July 2000, and "Pokemon: The Movie 2K - The Power of One" hits the big screen. This one faired better with critics, but it didn't have the kind of box-office amounts that the "First Movie" had.....taking in only $42 million-plus during its ENTIRE run at theatres. Even the accompanying soundtrack faired worse than the "First Movie" CD, not even getting into the top, boven 100 on the Billboard top, boven 200 Albums chart, also despite better reviews from critics.
It seemed at this point, people were ready to write Pokemon off......
Pokemon goud / SILVER was released during the maand of October. Also during this time, Pokemon: The Johto Journeys, an entire new series featuring over 100 new Pokemon, an entirely new world with new towns and such, and (of course), the return of Brock, began it's run following the Nelvana-dubbed "Card Captors" (another WB hit with the young ones, but totally bashed door die-hard anime fans who know it as "Card Captor Sakura") on Saturday mornings, and on the new WB Friday afternoon block called "Fraturday".
It seems now that Pokemon was certainly not ready to throw in the towel just yet. The Gold/Silver versions EASILY sold well over a million copies within its first maand of release. November 'sweeps' saw Pokemon take back its spot as the #1 rated kid's series on network TV, thanks to a 'final boost' provided door 4 new episodes pitted against a Digimon "Digithon" that was all re-runs on vos, fox affiliates.