June 1, 2007 / 6:58 AM / 12 years ago

Tamagotchi virtual pets set for movie debut

A girl plays with her Tamagotchi by using infrared connection to a Deka Tamagotchi (L) at an event of Tamagotchi in Tokyo November 18, 2006. Tamagotchi virtual pets are set for a new life as movie stars, with an animated film about their exploits to debut later this year. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Tamagotchi virtual pets are set for a new life as movie stars, with an animated film about their exploits to debut later this year.

The egg-shaped Tamagotchi, which simulates the life of a real pet so that “owners” have to feed it and clean up after it, was wildly popular after its 1997 release by Bandai Co, now called Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. (7832.T).

More than 40 million units were sold globally, with the 2004 release of the Tamagotchi Plus version introduced by Bandai America sparking a second wave of demand.

In the movie, set to come out in December, several of the Tamagotchi characters befriend a human girl who shows up at their home on a star.

“The Tamagotchi characters are pretty popular in their own right, and we thought it would be nice for people to see their favorite characters moving and acting in color,” a Bandai spokeswoman said.

The movie will be distributed by Toho Co. (9602.T).

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