Development Hell: An A To Z Of Video Game Movies In Production, Part 1

Next year will see an unprecedented number of videogames-to-movie adaptations hitting cinemas, but there are many more that never seem to make it off the drawing board. There’s a lot of films to cover, so below is the first of three parts in which you’ll find an exhaustive list and the history of every videogame-to-movie that is in production but has yet to make it to the screen.


Angry Birds

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An easy one to start with, scheduled for release in the summer of 2016 Angry Birds the movie actually exists and appears to be quite amusing. Written by Jon Vitti (The Simpsons Movie), the voice cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, and Josh Gad.

Army of Two

Universal Pictures grabbed the license to the EA franchise in 2009 with Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum) as scriptwriter. Not a peep has been heard about the movie since then.

Assassin’s Creed

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Directed by Justin Kurzel and produced by Ubisoft Motion Pictures, the Assassin’s Creed movie has been delayed quite a few times (make your own Ubisoft jokes here), but is now on track for release in December 2016. It stars Michael Fassbender who will play Aguilar, a 15th century Spanish Assassin, as well as his present day descendant, Callum Lynch.

Joining the Fass are Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson, and Jeremy Irons, so the cast is pretty darn good. Filming began in Malta in June 2015 with a budget nearing $200 million.

Asteroids

Asteroids was progressing well back in 2013, but since then things have been rather quiet. The plot is said to feature two brothers “who have to go through a seminal experience to figure out their relationship.” I’m guessing that “experience” may involve huge space rocks.

Bioshock
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Originally scheduled for 2011 to coinciding with the release of a third BioShock game, Gore Verbinski’s Bioshock movie ground to a halt when the studio was unwilling to put up the huge budget Gore wanted and let him make it an 18 rated film.

That seemed to the be the end of things, but in 2014 Sony Pictures registered a load of domain names relating to a Bioshock movie. Early this year the Wikileaks hacks revealed Sony were still pursuing the project and trying to wrestle the rights from Universal.

The new version of the movie would be “starting over but based on the same story as Gore Verbinski’s draft”, according to leaked emails, while another which revealed that Ryan Gosling was interested in the project and would be brought on board once the rights were sewn up.

Borderlands

In August this year it was revealed that Lionsgate is developing a tentpole movie based Borderlands. Super producers Avi and Ari Arad are on on-board.

“The ‘Borderlands’ games don’t pull any punches, and we’ll make the movie with the same in-your-face attitude that has made the series a blockbuster mega-franchise,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Rob Friedman.

No further details have been given, so if the movie goes ahead it won’t be on our screens for a good couple of years.

Call of Duty

A recent addition to the games-to-movies pile, Activision Blizzard have just formed their own movie production company and will be handling the first of many movies in the Call of Duty universe. The first film is expected near the end of 2018.

“With the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, our engaged fans can now watch the games they love come to life across film and television,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard.

Castlevania

Following the success of the Resident Evil movies, Paul W.S. Anderson was picked to direct the movie of Castlevania. He left the project in 2007 and the writer’s strike in 2008 almost killed the film entirely. In fact the studio, Rogue Pictures, claimed the project was cancelled in 2009 and then back tracked almost immediately when Saw director James Wan became attached to direct it. Nothing has been heard of the project since then, and Wan is busy on other movies, so a Castelvania film looks unlikely at present.

Dead Space

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Announced back in 2010 and with DJ Caruso attached as director, the Dead Space movie was to be a prequel to the games. Fast forward to 2013 and the project had stalled and EA took the movie in house with “Europa Report” scribe Philip Gelatt rewriting the script.

“You would be making ‘Event Horizon’ or ‘Alien,’” said Justin Marks of EA. “I’ve already seen that movie.” Instead, the challenge is to tell the main character’s story in a way “that’s new and intriguing.”

As Dead Space 3 flopped rather badly and we’ve not heard a squeak about the movie so it probably has as much life left in it as the crew of the USG Ishimura.

Deus Ex

“It’s still alive and I’m still involved as director,” claimed director Scott Derrickson in April 2014. He also added he had “no idea” when the film, which is based on based on Human Revolution and not the forthcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, will enter pre-production. Co-writer C. Robert Cargill said, “Eidos Montreal has given us a lot of freedom in terms of story; they want this movie to be ‘Blade Runner.’ We want this movie to be ‘Blade Runner.’ ”

Derrickson has since left the project to helm Doctor Strange for Marvel Studios and a new writer was drafted in, Michael Finch (Predators). Things went quiet until June this year when Adrian Askarieh, producer of the movie, shouted that there would be a “big announcement” very soon.

Roy Lee and I have parted ways with CBS Films and will shortly announce a new home for it. By the way, we love CBS Films. They were very good to us and they were very good to the project. But the budget of the movie is not something that fits the current CBS Films’ model. They may still be a part of it in terms of co-financing scenario. We are working extremely closely with Square Enix and Eidos Montreal on this one. Deus Ex is one of the most exciting projects which Roy and myself are working on. Fans should expect a very big announcement soon.

The big announcement has yet to arrive.

Devil May Cry

Four years ago, Capcom revealed a partnership with Screen Gems, the people behind the Resident Evil films, to create a live action version of Devil May Cry. Kyle Ward was given scriptwriting duties and would be using the rebooted DmC universe, rather than the classic version of Dante and chums from in Devil May Cry’s 1-4.

DmC: Devil May Cry didn’t sell as well as Capcom hoped and there has been no word on the movie since it’s initial announcement, so unless Dante himself nips in to development hell and rescues it, this project seems dead.

Far Cry
Unveiled by Ubisoft alongside the Watch Dogs movie, the new Far Cry movie has yet to make an appearance, probably because Ubisoft are very busy with the delayed Creed film.

If you are desperate for some big screen Far Cry action, then a movie already exist and you can find it on Netflix. It’s utter rubbish as it was directed by straight-to-video supremo, Uwe Boll. Check out the trailer below.

Gears of War
March 2007 and New Line Cinema revealed they had the rights to make a Gears of War film. Len Wiseman signed on to direct the movie, which was to be a prequel, but by 2010 the project was in trouble. The budget was cut, Wiseman left, and at Comic-con “Gears” lead designer and executive producer of the movie, Cliff Bleszinski, hinted that the script was being re-written.

Skip forward a few years to 2013 and Creative Artists Agency were looking to meet with producers and set up the project elsewhere. However, in 2014 this happened:

Microsoft Studios has acquired the rights to the “Gears of War” franchise from Epic Games, including rights to all existing and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise.

That seems to indicate Microsoft have bought back the movie rights, but at present there have been no updates from the company regarding a possible feature film.

God of War

A couple of weeks before the release of God of War II in 2005, the film adaptation of the franchise was announced. Surprisingly, series creator David Jaffe confirmed that a script had been completed and had been sent to a “huge-name director.”

Things went quiet until 2009 when Brett Ratner confirmed he was working on the film, followed by another bought of silence until 2012 when screenwriters Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton were given the script for re-writes.

“In the same way that Batman was grounded with Christopher Nolan’s rendition, we were attempting to do that with Kratos,” said Dunston. “When we meet him — like they’re doing in this newest game, which is sort of a prequel to the original — we’re seeing him before he became the Ghost of Sparta, when he was just a Spartan warrior and he had family and kids.”

Djimon Honsou (Guardians of the Galaxy) and videogame-to-movie favourite Dwayne Johnson have both been linked to the lead role of everyone’s favourite anti-hero, Kratos.

Gran Turismo

Social Network and Fifty Shades of Grey producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti were originally attached to the forthcoming Gran Turismo movie which was unveiled over two years ago. Since then, Oblivion and Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has been linked to the project.

Polyphony Digital boss Kazunori Yamauchi suggested the plot will follow a video game player who later becomes a real-world racer, although that idea may have been ditched.

Last month Jon and Erich Hoeber (Red) were listed as scriptwriters for the film with Kosinski confirmed as director.

Halo

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There was a Halo movie, then there wasn’t, then there was a rumoured Ridley Scott version, and then there was definitely not. “We plan to continue telling the Halo story through innovative channels, but there are no plans for a Halo motion picture at this time,” Microsoft told Eurogamer.

All that exists from the old projects is a smattering of concept art, one piece of which can be seen above. Microsoft did push out a Halo TV series, though.

Heavy Rain

A movie version of Quantic Dream’s game was first spotted when the United States Copyright Office listed the project in 2009. A year later it was offcially confirmed with the creator of ‘NYPD Blue’ and ‘Deadwood’, David Milch, has signed on to adapt the game in to a movie. That’s the last news we have, although we have heard rumours that the bloated corpse of the movie was found in a flooded storm drain.


And on that cheery note, it’s the end of the first part of our look at the turbulent world of videogame-to-movie adaptations. Come back tomorrow for more, starting with a generic bald chap who’s good with electricity.

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9 Comments

  1. The trouble is with these things is whilst you are looking to increase your audience & put these stories out to the masses, the main demographic that would actually be interested in the movie would be the gamers that are invested in that franchise… & the problem there would be that they have played all of the games & know the stories.

    Unless you are changing it up in quite a massive way, the overriding thought would be that you have seen this all before & the only difference now is that you don’t get to actually play it.

    That said though, a few of these could actually work (AC, Bioshock, Dead Space etc). Gran Turismo though? Bugger off. That would probably be about as dull as it sounds.

    Borderlands also seems like a pretty bad idea, as whilst you could capture the feel of the universe, it isn’t going to be the same as playing, shooting & looting. The story hasn’t exactly been the strong point in this series.

    • You could have said the same thing about superhero movies, where their main initial target demographic would have been the comicbook fans who already knew all of these characters and the universe intimately. There’s differences in terms of how much material there is to draw upon, certainly, but the most important thing is always to make it a good film. There’s lots of people who hate the cuts and changes made by Peter Jackson and co. with the Lord of the Rings films, and yet they’re still loved by a lot of others.

      As you said, there’s a few that could work, it’s just about how they can be adapted to suit the cinema.

  2. Asterioids? What the…. why is that getting a…. ASteroids? Just what!? How the…. i mean…. just what the…..

    It has nothing to use for a film! Oh crap, they have got Michael Bay involved haven’t they? I mean, who else managed to take Battleship and turn it into generic sci-fi alien ‘merica eff yeah! film.

    Amy of Two can be a great film if they make it a war buddy film and lean towards dark comedy. If not, it will be generico with a dash of generic sauce and a sprinkling of disappointment.

    Angry Birds, right this is a movie being made. Speaking of which, is that franchise still going strong? Been a while since i’ve heard anything about anything Angry Birds related.

    Borderlands, do it as a CGI flick, get Gearbox involved with the writing and maybe, use a few characters. Personally, i would love to see Tiny Tina be in the film if it’s set after B2. Actually, do it as a cell shaded film.

    Deus Ex, erm…. kinda got nothing to say.

    COD, didn’t Michael Bay approach them and got turned away? If so, oh, the irony. Also, the film will be generic.

    Halo, it has a lot of potential but they would risk being compared to Star Wars by some people. Hopefully, they will make a wonderful film. I’ve never played the game but the lore and universe are rich for stories!

    God of war, didn’t a script get rejected for “ripping off Attack of the Titans?” or the entire concept of a GOW film was rejected for “ripping off Attack of the titans?” If so, i’m going to give my wall a glasgow kiss. Repeatly. I may not be heard from again. Also, that may not work if it’s not the Spartan Hulk going around doing what he does best. I mean, let’s face it, Kratos is the very definition of unstoppable rage. (Apart from Asura from Asura’s wrath but Asura is literally powered by his own rage, Kratos is not).

    Bioshock, please don’t make this a film. Or worse, let Paul Anderson get involved. He ruined Resident Evil with his mary sue, actually, i take that back, his black hole sue main character and just shoving in elements from the current game because screw logic, the lore and making sense. Thank god Castlevania got spared although it is probably dead at this point due to Konami moving away from games.

    Dead Space, has potential.

    GT, no. Just no. No. Nooo. Telegram for GT. No. Stop. Just no. Stop. You have nothing for a film. stop. Le no. Stop. PS. No. stop.

  3. out of those, it’s the Blomkamp Halo movie i really wanted to see.
    shame that doesn’t look like it’ll ever happen.

    and now his Alien sequel may end up getting shelved, don’t get me wrong, i’m glad to see Ridley Scott return to the Alien universe, but i so wanted to see Ripley again.

    anyway.

    i’m looking forward to Assassin’s Creed, they’ve got a good cast, it remains to be seen how the plot is.

    but Asteroids?
    how? why? when? who? what?

    aww hell, i’d probably go see it if it got made. ^_^

    Dead Space could be a good movie, i haven’t seen a good space based horror movie in a while.
    but considering how good they can be when done right, as in Alien, it has potential.
    though sadly, as you said, the last game’s reception probably put paid to any hopes of a movie.

    given how ea operates these days, it’s probably just as well, pay 3 pounds to watch the next scene with all the effects or watch the animated storyboards for free. ^_^

    • And go EXTREME! with DORITOS AND MOUNTAIN DEW! (Not included with the film, you must buy it from our Origin kiosks. Origin Kiosks may be limited to the US only because we can’t get SCEE to decide on the colour of the desks.)

      • Erm, the Doritos & Mountain Dew thing was a CoD thing wasn’t it?

        I.e Activision & not EA…? ;)

      • Well,….

        shut up, Meg. .. i mean forrest. Not that i can’t think of other brands that have the same status as doritos and mountain dew. *does a runner* :P

  4. I would love a Dead Space movie!
    Ha found it. Can see God of War and Gears of War for a movie

    • A Dead Space movie could work, but I agree with the Justin Marks in that they need to stay away from feeling too samey to things like Event Horizon & Alien.

      Gears of War would just be a bit like Starship Troopers wouldn’t it (albeit with a perhaps more serious tone)?

      I would not touch a God of War movie though. Mainly as Kratos gets on my tits. Also there are those not particularly awesome Clash/Wrath of the Titans movies…

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