Celebrate the Pokémon Anime with CGC-certified Pokémon Movie Promos

Posted on 4/24/2023

Though Ash and Pikachu's adventures on the big screen are coming to a close, fans can continue to reminisce with Pokémon trading cards based on the ever-popular anime.

Since 1998, Ash Ketchum and Pikachu have enchanted fans of all ages by bringing Pokémon to life on the big screen. The iconic duo has led multiple generations through battle after battle and eight generations worth of Pokémon content. Many fans never thought they would see the day when Ash and Pikachu would retire from the big screen.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. In 2023, Ash and Pikachu will take their final steps on their 26-year journey and leave the Pokémon anime, which will continue with a new set of protagonists. It’s truly a bittersweet ending of an era, and many aren’t ready to see them go. Luckily, there are several physical pieces of media to collect if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to Ash and Pikachu’s adventures. For example, there are dozens of trading cards themed around the anime! CGC Trading Cards® has certified several of these cards, including movie promos and more.

Wizards of the Coast, the company responsible for producing the Pokémon TCG from 1997 to 2003, worked closely with The Pokémon Company to produce special promo cards for movie releases. These special cards were included in WotC’s Black Star Promo set. They were exclusively given away with ticket purchases at the theater and, in some cases, home video releases. Here are some of the movie promos they released.

Pokémon Movie Promos

Mewtwo Strikes Back

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The first set of these Black Star Promo cards were given away with the theatrical release of "Mewtwo Strikes Back" in 1999. Movie-goers had the chance to receive one of four cards featuring one of the Pokémon with a role in the movie and a special gold stamp that reads, “Kids WB Presents Pokémon: The First Movie” in the top right-hand corner of the Pokémon’s art box.

These cards included Pikachu, Dragonite, Electabuzz and Mewtwo. There are 8,596 examples of these four cards in total in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report, with 45 of those examples graded CGC Pristine 10.

Pokémon: The Movie 2000

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Less than a year after "Mewtwo Strikes Back" hit theaters, Pokémon’s second movie came to the big screen in July 2000. "Pokémon: The Movie 2000" gave fans their first look at a never-before-seen legendary — Lugia — and introduced several other Pokémon that would become staples in the Generation II games, which were released later the same year in the US.

Similar to "Mewtwo Strikes Back," fans who came to see "Pokémon: The Movie 2000" in theaters received a special promo card with a purchase of a ticket. During the movie’s first week in theaters, moviegoers received an Ancient Mew card, identical to the one that Lawrence III has in the film. There are 9,496 examples in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report, with 47 graded CGC Pristine 10 and 6 graded CGC Perfect 10.

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After that first week, anyone who purchased a ticket would receive either a Moltres, Zapdos or Articuno Black Star Promo card at random. There are 3,522 examples of these cards in total in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report, with 307 graded CGC Pristine 10 and 53 graded CGC Perfect 10.

Pokémon: Spell of the Unown

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"Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown" was the last Pokémon movie to be written by Takeshi Shudo, the original writer for the Pokémon anime. The film introduces the Unown, a strange psychic Pokémon native to Johto. The legendary Pokémon Entei also plays a major role in the film.

Much like the first two films, fans who purchased a ticket to see "Spell of the Unown" received an Entei promo card while supplies lasted. This was the first reverse holofoil card to be released outside of Japan, and the first card to feature Entei in the international Pokémon TCG expansions. There are 3,075 examples in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report, with 49 of them graded CGC Pristine 10.

Pokémon 4Ever: Celebi – The Voice of the Forest

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"Pokémon 4Ever" was the final movie to be released in North American theaters before WotC lost the rights to the Pokémon TCG. As such, it was the last chance fans had to receive a promotional card when they purchased tickets to see the movie. Fans who attended the theatrical release in 2002 received a special Celebi Black Star Promo card with “Pokémon 4Ever” stamped in Celebi’s art box. There are 132 examples in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report, with one graded CGC Pristine 10.

Meanwhile, fans who didn’t get a chance to see the movie in theaters had a second chance to receive a promo card. Anyone who purchased the "Celebi: Voice of the Forest" VHS or DVD received a Suicune Black Star Promo with the same “Pokémon 4Ever” stamp as a pack-in. There are 170 examples in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report, with 2 graded CGC Pristine 10.

Pokémon VS.

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After "Pokémon 4Ever" was released, WotC lost the rights to the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Meanwhile, future Pokémon films were never widely released in theaters, with Miramax — the new producer for Pokémon movies and Project Pikachu — opting for select theater releases across the US or direct-to-home VHS and DVD releases. Because of this, US fans did not receive further movie-themed cards for several years.

Fans who wanted to receive Pokémon cards themed around their favorite movie protagonists, such as Latias and Latios from "Pokémon Heroes" or Manaphy from "Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea" would need to turn to Japanese cards: namely, the Pokémon VS half decks.

The Pokémon VS series consists of numerous half-decks, each usually themed around a particular Pokémon or trainer. Many VS decks contain “Owner’s” Pokémon, which are Pokémon that are owned by a particular trainer, like Wizards of the Coast’s Gym Challenge set. Some of these half-decks were themed around movie releases and included Pokémon from the movies, including Alto Mare’s Latios, Sea’s Manaphy and Aura’s Lucario.

Of these three cards, there are 125 total examples in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report. Two CGC-certified Alto Mare’s Latios are graded CGC Pristine 10, with none graded higher.

Recently, Pokémon has brought back movie promos in both Japan and the US. For example, a reprint of Ancient Mew was given to patrons who attended the theatrical release of Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution in the US. There are many other classic and modern movie promos to collect, too, including the Topps movie sets. Are you ready to submit your cards for authentication, grading and encapsulation in the industry’s best holder? Click here to learn how.

About CGC Trading Cards

CGC Trading Cards is dedicated to providing impartial, third-party authentication, grading and encapsulation services for non-sports trading cards. Since launching in 2020, the company has graded over 2 million trading cards from the world's most popular games, including Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, MetaZoo, Flesh and Blood, Dragon Ball Super and more. To learn more about CGC Trading Cards, click here.

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