Despite the critical and financial failures of almost every video game to movie adaptation released to date, Ubisoft is determined to translate its most popular (read: lucrative) gaming franchises into big screen cinematic films. In October we brought you word that Ubisoft had joined forces with New Regency Productions to bring Assassin’s Creed to theaters. Then, in December, we reported that the same duo would be putting a Splinter Cell film into the production pipeline. Now, it seems that Ubisoft hopes the Ghost Recon franchise might follow the same path.
The LA Times recently published an article detailing how the Ubisoft/New Regency partnership hopes to avoid the pitfalls that have crippled so many game-to-film adaptations in the past. It’s a good read (though perhaps a bit overly optimistic), but the focus of this story is contained in a single sentence toward the end of the piece. “Baronnet is also putting together a pitch for a movie based on the Ghost Recon games about a special operations military squad,” it reads.
The “Baronnet” mentioned in that line would be Jean-Julien Baronnet, CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures. As head of Ubisoft’s movie wing Baronnet has long been the driving force behind Ubisoft’s theatrical dreams. We think its important here to point out that Baronnet is a businessman, not a game designer or film director, so while his enthusiasm for these projects is apparent (or at least really well faked), we’re growing increasingly concerned that Ubisoft may be attempting to do too much, too quickly, to the detriment of these films’ overall quality.
Think of it this way: Ubisoft Motion Pictures is only two years old. In that time it’s built up a solid collection of employees whose various skills could very well facilitate a quality video game film. In the last few months, Baronnet has been pushing actual film projects into the pipeline at a tremendous rate. We’ve yet to see any actual output from Ubisoft’s movie wing, yet in the past few months Baronnet has begun work on at least three separate movie projects. There’s no attempt to prove the studio’s abilities in front of a live audience or any effort to ease into the rigors of the Hollywood game; just a blind desire to get these movies made in what Baronnet considers to be a novel fashion for the beleaguered subgenre known as “video game movies.”
Don’t get us wrong: We hope the Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon movies are awesome cinematic triumphs, but given the failure rate of movies based on games, Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ relative inexperience in the field of filmmaking, and the rate at which the company takes on new projects, we’re running out of justifications for how any of this might work out for the best. At most we’re hoping these movies aren’t a colossal financial failure, thus dooming Ubisoft Motion Pictures. Despite our fears in this case, we like the idea of a video game company controlling production of movies based on its games.