It’s a pretty commonly held sentiment that movies based on video games are terrible. There’s a long line of bad game-based films that support this conclusion (example A. Super Mario Bros.), and even modest hits like the Resident Evil franchise haven’t really changed the mainstream’s perception.
However, producer Avi Arad knows a thing or two about taking maligned film genres and turning them into Hollywood gold. Arad helped turn comic book films from box office disasters into indispensable summer tentpoles, and now he’s looking to do the same thing with games. The cinematic architect recently chatted with Kotaku, and offered up some interesting thoughts on movies based on games and the state of some high-profile projects – including Uncharted, Mass Effect and Metal Gear Solid.
Arad points out that he thinks the real reason we haven’t seen a breakout video game movie to date is because studios are apprehensive. Titles like Halo and Bioshock both had the potential to elevate the medium in the same way films like Spider-Man and Batman Begins helped comics gain traction in Tinseltown, but that one big hit just hasn’t come together yet. Once that happens, Arad envisions the same kind of explosion in video game properties (or at least the ones that Uwe Boll isn’t involved with).
What title might be that game changer? Arad suspects it could be Uncharted.
“I think Uncharted will be very successful. It's a father-and-son game. There are things about it that are interesting. I think the world of antiquities theft, there are many countries in the world that realised they're being robbed and they're trying to recoup these important pieces," said Arad. "Now, the script has a lot of character [and] I think that has a shot at being the first one [to succeed]."
Uncharted certainly has big potential – the game franchise has seen three successful PlayStation 3 releases to date (plus one portable iteration for the PlayStation Vita) and resonates with fans, who find the games already embody a very cinematic quality in their own right.
That being said, we might be waiting awhile to find out how Nate and his pal Sully fare at the box office – a script for the Uncharted movies is in the can, but there’s no lead actor or director (Mark Wahlberg and David O. Russell have both departed) so a start date seems to be off in the future somewhere.
Arad then took a moment to update another project that has fans salivating: the big-screen adaptation of Konami and Hideo Kojima’s beloved Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Known for its weighty (and often convoluted) narratives, Metal Gear has a story that seems at least somewhat likely to work as a film. Arad reveals that he’s about to meet with Kojima to discuss the project, but that they’re probably three or four years away from actually getting the film released.
If that seems like an eternity to get your Solid Snake action, then you’re going to be really disappointed about Mass Effect.
The film project, inspired by Bioware’s three-part sci-fi trilogy, finds humanity working alongside alien races to combat an ancient enemy. The game earned accolades for its engaging story (although the ending caused a major outrage when gamers felt as though it demeaned all the choices they’d made up until that moment) and richly drawn world and characters. It was a no brainer that someone would want to bring it to the screen.
That being said, Arad reveals it’s been a rocky road developing Mass Effect – and that it could be five or six more years before Commander Shepard and his team attempt to save the galaxy. Boo.
Do you think these projects could finally make video games big business in Hollywood? What game do you think has the best shot at becoming a breakout hit? Share your opinions with us below.
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