CBS Films grabs Deus Ex movie rights

Continuing Hollywood’s long-running streak of optioning the film rights for every successful video game with any semblance of a plot, CBS Films has signed an agreement with publisher Square Enix to adapt Deus Ex: Human Revolution for theaters. Scant details on CBS’ plans are currently available, but Deadline reports that Roy Lee and Adrian Askarieh have been tapped to produce, with John P. Middleton picking up an executive producer credit for the still-hypothetical film. Before you ask, no, there’s not any real reason for you to be familiar with those names.

What it lacks in details however, this morning’s announcement more than makes up for in businessmen expressing excitement about this project. “As is clear from the wild success of the game, Square Enix and Eidos-Montreal know how to exceed their audience’s expectations by engineering incredible worlds,” said CBS Films co-president Terry Press. “No one knows Human Revolution like the team that created it and we look forward to working with them from day one to make a film adaptation worthy of the Deus Ex name.”

Similarly, Phil Rogers, the CEO of Square Enix Europe, offered the following: “As the millions of fans who have played the Deus Ex games for more than a decade will tell you, these games catapult you into a universe that is stimulating, engaging and relevant. We’re firm believers in building strong partnerships and so we’re thrilled to be working with CBS Films on bringing the unique Deus Ex experience to the big screen.”

Standard boiler plate quotations there, but what did you expect? The only really solid bit of information included in this announcement was encapsulated entirely in the headline of this piece and CBS Films’ PR team has to earn its inflated paycheck somehow. Still, being huge fans of both the original Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (let us never speak of Invisible War) we’re suddenly filled with a sense of foreboding, optimistic hope, and then a bit more foreboding.

Hollywood doesn’t exactly have a great track record in adapting video games for the screen and unlike Mortal Kombat or Super Mario Bros. the Deus Ex series deals with themes that are both thought-provoking and surprisingly portentous. A good science fiction writer could use the concepts of transhumanism, surveillance and far-reaching government conspiracies to craft an awesome movie, but it’s likely far more profitable for CBS Films to hand the script writing duties to some dumb kid fresh out of film school. Given the massive success of the games this film will likely make a pretty solid profit, even if the studio offers the production a relatively generous $70 million budget (which will almost certainly not happen).

Unfortunately, while that works out nicely for the suits at CBS Films, fans of the series will be left with a tepid film adaptation of one of gaming’s most intelligent action series. Maybe you can find a glimmer of hope here, but we won’t be holding our breath. Feel free to insert your own “I didn’t ask for this” joke.

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