Changing the Game in Video Game Adaptation

Seeing as the video game industry has become so massive, with such hits as Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which grossed $1 billion in 15 days in December, and Modern Warfare, which sold $400 million in a single day in 2011, why is it that film adaptations of video games are so often flops? Especially in the wake of the dismal Silent Hill: Revelation, it seems that the studios producing such adaptations really need to rethink their approach.

Some of the only successful such adaptations include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the Resident Evil franchise, so perhaps the film industry should take notes from their example. In the article below, Resident Evil producer Jeremy Bolt, for example, said “When we developed the first screenplay, director Paul W.S. Anderson flew to Tokyo and spent a great deal of time with the game creators. We listened to their comments and respected their positions and that of the fans as much as we could. We see that as part of the success.”

So is that the key? True collaboration between the video game studio and the Hollywood studio? Well it’s certainly a start. It’s true that the video game creators know their fans much more intimately than the big-wigs in Hollywood. Ubisoft is taking this approach by putting together a complete package before proposing their projects to the studios, specifically by signing A-list stars (Michael Fassbender is slated to star in and produce Assassin’s Creed, and Tom Hardy is already attached to Splinter Cell).

But Prince of Persia showed that having A-list actors isn’t enough, as it failed to connect to audiences even with Jake Gyllenhaal as the star, and other recognizable actors such as Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina in supporting roles. There must be more to it than that – in my opinion, the weakness of these adaptations is primarily in the story. There is a delicate balance between pandering to the preexisting fans of the video game and being accessible to a new, wider audience, and the best way to appeal to both is through a story that is new and exciting for the fans that can also stand alone as a solid movie in its own right. If you ask me, the producers of these adaptations need to put more stock in their screenwriters.

What do you think would make film adaptations of video games more successful? Are there any video games you’re dying to see made into movies?

Why Video Game Companies Are Taking More Control Over Their Movies
Tatiana Siegel @ The Hollywood Reporter

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From books to plays to theme park rides, Hollywood has a long history of transforming successful intellectual properties into box-office hits.

But when it comes to video games, the track record is surprisingly dismal. Despite sales figures that have made film executives drool — Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 grossed $1 billion in 15 days in December, and Modern Warfaresold $400 million in a single day in 2011 — only one film based on a video game, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, has ever crossed the $100 million threshold domestically ($131 million).

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