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:
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.
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 Creedgames 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.