Remember the days when movies based on video games were rare, and most actors and filmmakers stayed far away if they wanted to keep their credibility (and career)? Well, if the next few years of films are any indication, Hollywood’s perspective on the potential of video-game movies has changed significantly.
As games begin to regularly outsell any other forms of media in the entertainment industry and box offices are dominated by comic book heroes – who themselves once had a spotty record with film and TV – it’s no surprise that studios have taken notice of the potential this market offers. Even more important, however, is the power now wielded by many game developers and publishers, who are jumping into the movie-making business with an eye toward turning their properties into legitimate big-screen franchises.
While it’s still too early to say the days of half-hearted, low-budget, adaptations-in-name-only are truly behind us, the future certainly looks bright for game franchises making the leap to the big screen. Have a look at what’s coming up in the game-to-movie world:
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Coming To Theaters
While it’s impossible to know whether or not these films will be any good, they do stand the best chance of getting made and coming to a theater near you.
Need For Speed (March 14, 2014)
Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul stars in this upcoming film based on Electronic Arts’ popular car-racing franchise. The movie is currently in post-production, and features Paul as a wrongly convicted felon who signs up for a dangerous cross-country race in order to pay off the bounty on his head. Paul is joined by Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Kid Cudi, and Michael Keaton, who plays the eccentric sponsor of the race.
Need For Speed is directed by Scott Waugh (Act Of Valor), based on a script by George and John Gatins (Real Steel) and George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum), who indicated that the plot is an original story and not based on any particular game in the franchise.
- The film will be post-converted to 3D. [2/7/14]
- A recent Super Bowl trailer received a lot of positive attention. [2/7/14]
Resident Evil 6 (2015)
The most successful franchise of films based on video games hasn’t finished telling its story, and Resident Evil 6 is not only in development, but was originally on the calendar for a September 12, 2014 premiere. According to writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, who wrote all five of the previous films and directed three of them, the sixth film will once again star Milla Jovovich as Alice, though it will be her final turn as the character (and possibly the final film in the series before a reboot). Shooting for Resident Evil 6 is expected to begin this year.
- Despite Sony announcing the release date, there is some debate about how real it is. Jovovich told fans she thinks the date will actually be 2015. [1/10/14]
- The delay seems to be confirmed now, as Anderson has claimed Jovovich is committed to filming Cymbeline. The husband and wife time are then planning some time off before filming Resident Evil 6. [2/7/14]
- We spoke with Anderson about the film, and he confirmed to us that he had not yet begun, and would not begin work for a little while at least. [2/21/14]
Assassin’s Creed (August 7, 2015)
Ubisoft’s grand experiment in movie production kicks off in 2015 with Assassin’s Creed, based on the critically acclaimed series about a secret organization of assassins that has helped to shape history, while fighting a centuries old war against the Templars. The film has been in various stages of development for years now, but it made serious headlines in 2012 when Ubisoft announced that it was creating its own film division to develop the movie, along with several other properties. The film made news again when Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Prometheus) agreed to produce and star in the film.
Relative newcomer Michael Lesslie penned the first draft of the film’s script, but Minority Report and The Wolverine screenwriter Scott Frank is currently revising Lesslie’s story. According to Frank, the film will have a “completely different” story from the games, though it’s expected to feature many of the same themes and general concepts that made the Assassin’s Creed games so compelling. Ubisoft has yet to name a director for the movie, though it has confirmed that it will be a 3D film.
- The film has been pushed back from July to August 7. [1/10/14]
- Shooting is expected to begin in August 2014. [2/7/14]
- Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) is reportedly the studio’s first choice to direct, although that is unconfirmed. [2/7/14]
Warcraft (March 11, 2016)
After it was first announced in 2006 that a World of Warcraft film was in the works, the project seemed to go nowhere. The initial release of 2009 was pushed to 2011, and a director wasn’t attached until Sam Raimi. Once he backed out, it seemed to confirm the film was in development hell. Cut to January 2013 when Legendary Pictures announced that the film’s new director would be up and coming filmmaker Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), reigniting interest from fans and cinephiles alike.
Since then, the production has begun to speed up. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the film will be based on the novel Warcraft: The Last Guardian, and filming began in January 2014. The studio has targeted a 2015 premiere for the film.
- The film was announced for a December 18, 2015 release date, but following the delay that pushed Star Wars: Episode VII back to December, Universal moved the film back to March 11, 2016. [1/20/14]
- Casting is going strong. Ben Foster, Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, and Rob Kazinsky have joined the cast. [1/20/14]
- Daniel Wu and Clancy Brown have both joined the cast as well. [2/7/14]
- Filming will combine live action and CGI. All orcs will be portrayed by live actors. [2/7/14]
- The characters of Cairne Bloodhoof, Thrall,Sylvanas Windrunner, and Bolvar Fordragon are rumored to appear, although Arthas will not. [2/7/14]
- The main character – which may be played by Fimmel, is described as “A Kick Ass Human” and “Anti-Thrall.” This character may be completely original to the film. [2/7/14]
Angry Birds (July 1, 2016)
Angry Birds developer Rovio Entertainment announced plans for a 3D, computer-animated film based on its addictive game franchise back in December 2012. Despicable Me producer John Cohen is currently attached to the project and Sony Pictures will distribute, but Rovio will produce and finance the film, giving the game developer full creative control.
- Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly have been hired to direct. It will be their debut. [2/7/14]
Ratchet & Clank (2015)
An animated film based on Insomniac Game’s platforming series. The game will retell the story of the original game, showing how Ratchet & Clank originally met and went on to save the galaxy. The voice cast from the game will reprise their roles.
Sly Cooper (2016)
Blockade Entertainment, the same company behind the Ratchet & Clank film, is also working on an animated version of Sucker Punch’s Sly Cooper game series. Not much is known about the film yet, but a teaser has been released.
Agent 47 (TBD)
The 2007 Hitman movie that cast Timothy Olyphant as the deadly Agent 47 apparently did well enough for the studio to revisit the franchise, but not well enough to merit a sequel – the upcoming Agent 47 not only recasts the lead role, but also reboots the series. This time around, The Fast & The Furious star Paul Walker was set to play the well-dressed and follicly challenged assassin, while commercial director Aleksander Bach takes over behind the camera. Walker’s untimely death forced the production to change, but it is still on track.
The new film does bring back one element from the previous movie though, as Hitman screenwriter Skip Woods returns with co-writer Michael Finch (Predators) for the new story. There’s no release date yet for Agent 47, which reportedly began shooting earlier this year.
- Rupert Friend (Homeland, Starred Up) has been tapped to star. Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Heroes) and Hannah Ware (Boss, Oldboy) will appear in a supporting role. [2/7/14]
- Shooting will begin in March. [2/7/14]
Splinter Cell (TBD)
One of the first film projects announced by the newly formed Ubisoft Motion Pictures is a live-action feature based on Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Much like the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie, Ubisoft retains complete control over the creative elements of the Splinter Cell movie and found itself a high-profile star to lead the project in Tom Hardy. The British actor will play Splinter Cell protagonist Sam Fisher, which is currently in the scripting stage. Screenwriter Eric Singer (The International) is working on the screenplay for the film, which has yet to find a director or set a release date.
Next Page: Movies with a decent chance of getting made
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Decent Chance Of Getting Made
Don’t be surprised if the films in this category make it to theaters, but their future is far from certain at this point. Despite interest from major studios and/or Hollywood talent, you should probably consider their odds of getting made about even right now.
Universal Pictures picked up the rights to make a film based on the classic arcade game Asteroids back in July 2009. There hasn’t been much movement on the project since, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (RED 2) insists that it is indeed in development, and it recently received a rewrite from Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer. The film was originally offered to Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, but he backed out in 2012.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
In July 2012, Eidos Montreal and CBS Films confirmed a Deus Ex: Human Revolution movie was in development. A few months later, Sinister filmmaker Scott Derrickson was named as the director of Deus Ex, with Derrickson and his co-writer on Sinister, C. Robert Cargill, penning the film’s script. There’s no release date yet for the film.
Yet another upcoming film from Ubisoft Motion Picture, Far Cry will go into development in the second phase of Ubisoft’s production schedule, assuming phase one does well and the company can come up with a solid idea, or person/group to work on it. While the original Far Cry game was the inspiration for a disappointing 2008 film directed by Uwe Boll, it’s uncertain which installment of the franchise – if any – will inform the upcoming film. There isn’t any release date or creative team assigned to the project yet.
Earlier this year, the studio announced that director Michael Bay (Transformers, The Rock) would supervise development of Ghost Recon and could end up getting behind the camera for the project, too. The extent of his involvement will likely depend on the script for the film; the studio is currently meeting with potential writers.
The Last of Us
A film version of the PlayStation 3 exclusive game is being developed, and it will be distributed by Screen Gems. The film will be produced by Sam Raimi’s Ghost Light Productions, and be written by Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the game. No word yet on exactly what the story will focus on, but with Druckmann writing, there is a good chance that it will follow the general plot of the game. The Last of Us is set 20 years after a mutated spore turns most of the population into creatures, and a worn out man must escort a young girl that potentially hold the key to the future across a ruined America.
Ubisoft’s kid-friendly Raving Rabbids franchise is also getting the big-screen treatment, but unlike the rest of the studio’s offerings, the Rabbids movie will be a decidedly family-friendly project. Reports suggest that the Rabbids movie will be a predominantly live-action film with computer-generated versions of the game’s rabbit-like “rabbids” – similar to the style of the recent Smurfs movies.
GK Films acquired the film rights to the Tomb Raider franchise in 2011, and announced a partnership with MGM earlier this year to produce a new movie featuring iconic adventurer Lara Croft, with development beginning immediately. In June, MGM announced that Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Marti Noxon, who also penned scripts for the recent Fright Night remake and I Am Number Four, will also work on the Tomb Raider script.
We actually upgraded this film from “Sort of Alive” to “Decent Chance of Getting Made,” primarily because Sony refuses to give on it. Director David O. Russell (The Fighter) dropped out of the project in 2011 over disagreements with Sony on budget and the direction of the story, and was later replaced by Limitless director/writer Neil Burger. A year later, Burger dropped out of the project. Marianne and Cormac Wibberley (National Treasure) were then brought on to pen a new script in August 2012. Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg said they were approached to direct on multiple occasions, but have repeatedly declined.
Seth Gordon, the director of King of Kong has been hired to direct, based on a script from David Guggenheim (Safe House, Stolen). No release date has been hinted at, but Sony refuses to let the film die, which should reassure those that wish to see this film made.
- Gordon has also been hired to direct the film Queen of Hearts, which could either delay the project, or force the director to choose one or the other. [2/7/14]
Ubisoft’s open-world, cyber-warfare game hits shelves in November 2013, but it already has a movie in the works. The Watch Dogs film was announced in June as part of the second trio of movies to be produced by Ubisoft Motion Pictures. Development is still in the early stages and a lot will depend on the performance of the preceding Ubisoft films, so little is known about the movie at this point.
Next Page: Alive (sort of) movie productions
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(Sort Of) Alive
Most of the films in this category have been kicking around Hollywood for a while now, and despite some movement here and there in the development cycle, they don’t seem to be able to get past the scripting phase. Things could easily change – as they often do in Hollywood – but right now the odds aren’t great.
Universal recently announced that Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) was just signed to direct, with Eric Newman attached to produce. The new movement is encouraging, but the game was released four year ago in February, and both the game itself and animated movie that was released with it were only moderate hits. Alvarez is already committed to Evil Dead II, so it could be another year at least before this property would even have the chance to be made.
Devil May Cry
Capcom confirmed Screen Gems’ intent to make a live-action Devil May Cry film at E3, with a script by Machete Kills screenwriter Kyle Ward. That was over two years ago. The project is currently considered to be in the “treatment stage.”
God of War
A live-action God of War movie has been in development since 2005, and it has worked its way through several writers since. God of War creator David Jaffe claimed that an actor was close to being cast, but that was in 2011. The project has yet to name a director or a release date.
Heavy Rain (2014)
Quantic Dream’s moody murder mystery Heavy Rain had its film rights snatched up almost as soon as the first footage was revealed, and the film was reportedly fast-tracked for production. NYPD Blue and Deadwood writer David Milch is currently working on a script for the film, and has been for nearly three years.
Kane & Lynch
In 2010, Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx were originally cast in the lead roles, but the film was pushed back from a 2011 release to 2013 due to the departure of director Patrick Alessandrin (District 13: Ultimatum), and the original script has undergone several rewrites with no end in sight.
A Mass Effect film has been in development since May 2010, with former Marvel CEO Avi Arad one of several producers on the project. Originally penned by Mark Protosevich (Thor), the script received a rewrite in 2012 from Morgan Davis Foehl (Click). Arad has said the film is still a long way off from release.
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid director Hideo Kojima announced in 2006 that a live-action movie based on his wildly successful game franchise was in development with Avi Arad’s production company. Seven years later, Man Of Steel writer David Goyer is rumored to be the studio’s choice to pen the film’s script.
New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. gave Kevin Tancharoen (Mortal Kombat: Rebirth) the reins to a reboot of Mortal Kombat in 2011 after his successful web series, but the project ran into trouble last year. Warner Bros. reduced the budget to $40-50 million (down from around $100 million), and Tancharoen returned to filming the second season of his web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy while the details are being sorted out.
Next Page: Don’t bet on seeing these movies
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Don’t Bet On Seeing It
For various reasons, these projects have been relegated to development limbo with no sign of getting out any time soon.
Director Gore Verbinski originally saw the BioShock film as an R-rated feature with a $200 million budget. Universal refused. Verbinski then handed over director duties to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later)¸and remained as a producer, but the budget scared most studios away, and BioShock creator Ken Levine announced that the project was officially canceled earlier this year.
Gears Of War
After losing the support of New Line Cinema over budget and director Len Wiseman over scheduling, a fresh script was commissioned by Epic Games and the film’s new producer, Scott Stuber (Ted, Battleship). They’re still shopping the film around to studios – leaving its future very much in doubt after spending this long in the development cycle.
Following Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp’s failed bid to make a live-action Halo, Steven Spielberg was attached in 2009. Instead of a film though, the project has become a live action TV series that will air via the Xbox One, officially supplanting the proposed movie.
Although once considered to be in pre-production, InFamous 2 game producer Brian Fleming said in 2011 that he was “skeptical” the project would ever happen.
20th Century Fox announced in 2011 that it had acquired the rights to make a movie based on Missile Command, with a script by co-writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, (Dracula, Flash Gordon). There haven’t been any updates since that initial announcement.
David Ronn and Jay Scherick (The Smurfs) have reportedly been penning the script for this live-action/CGI hybrid film for over two years now. Sony Pictures Animation currently owns the rights, but there hasn’t been a word about it in years.
A live-action movie based on The Sims was first announced back in May 2007, with Puss In Boots writer Brian Lynch tagged to pen the script for the film. There hasn’t been any official update to the project in several years.
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