Rian Johnson Directed A Delightful ‘Pokemon Go’ Commercial While Quarantining

The entertainment industry has for the most part been shut down for nearly four months now, especially in California, where COVID-19 cases have been recently re-spiking. What is a director to do when they can’t get within six feet of a cast and crew? Rian Johnson found a solution: He directed a new commercial for Pokemon Go, all without leaving his home.

The ad finds a host of house-bound players peeling off the reality of walls, doors, and backyards as though they were wallpaper, revealing such lurking Pokemon characters as Pikachu, Squirtle, Mudkip, and Snorlax. The logistics of how Johnson directed the ad — did he have crew members shoot their families in the homes in which they’re quarantining, using professional cameras? — is unclear, although enough of it is CGI that it wouldn’t require him traveling to a set anyway. (And remember: Wes Anderson directed much of the stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox remotely.)

Why is the director of Brick, The Last Jedi, and Knives Out helming an ad for Pokemon Go? Because he’s a fan, of course. In a statement, Johnson said the incredibly popular smartphone game has kept me engaged with my friends remotely as I’ve been practicing physical distancing these past few months.” He added that directing a production remotely was “a new experience for me,” and he
“enjoyed the highly collaborative process and think we put together a fun and upbeat commercial that fans will enjoy.”

The reason for the ad? The “Pokemon Go Fest” is still slated for July 25, although it will have to be held virtually, for reasons we obviously don’t need to explain. In fact, the game’s top brass has made the game significantly less Go, to encourage players to not leave their homes, gather in groups, and make this pandemic even more nightmarish than it is already. Truly one of the only things making this better is that we can all still play Pokemon Go.