Game Over: Video Game Films - News and the Halfway PointRob McGregor10/05/16 11:00amFiled to: game overvideo game feature filmvideo game moviesbadgoodwarcrafttomb raiderpokemonhitmanresident evilmax paynestreet fighterhouse of the deaddoomportalmortal kombatsilent hillsuper mario brothersassassins creedcall of dutybattlefieldfirewatchtetrisfruit ninjaangry birds44EditPromoteShare to KinjaGo to permalinkMoney where my mouth is... my actual purchases for this series... many covered, many still to come... Every few years there is a wave of announcements that seem to all happen close together - touting a bunch of video games brands to now become a bunch of new movies. These deals tend to happen very rapidly although many of them end up in development hell when finding the right script, director and actors to be involved with them. The more surprise hit of a game too, the more likely there will be a rush to buy the rights while it’s new or reissue them if it’s a longer running series.AdvertisementSo instead of going head first into Review #10 of the top 20, I decided to write up a post this week reflecting on what’s been covered so far, but first also looking at what else has been going on in the world of video-games to film in the past few months. Because we seem to have reached another one of these peak announcement years where it seems something new is talked about officially every other week.Warcraft certainly had the looks... but did it have much else?The easiest place to start of course is the current list’s status and how recent and upcoming films might have changed it. When I first made the list this series is based on in early May, there hadn’t yet been the release of the Warcraft feature film. Indeed had I included it into this list then right now it would be easily the number one film on it - having made $433.5 million dollars worldwide in cinemas.AdvertisementHowever, as reports have pointed out - the film was not a complete success. With an estimated budget of around $160 million, heavy marketing costs, and with the US domestic result being way down on expectations (at only $47.2M) - it required success in China for making up the bulk of the box office. Which for the film makers thankfully happened. Even then it’s estimated the film still lost around $15M at least. If this stops a sequel to the film has yet to be seen. My prediction is a sequel will happen, perhaps with a lowered budget and a focus on the Chinese market. But it certainly wasn’t the result Universal was likely expecting of such a well known brand and probably came as a surprise to a lot of people. [On a personal note, I still have yet to see it but people have told me it’s fairly faithful to the source origins. I’m not a giant Warcraft fan myself, so if you have an opinion about the film I’d love to hear your comments below.]The rebooted sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider.On that “strong brand” front, Warner Brothers is hoping to cash in on the seeming success of the more recent rebooted Tomb Raider games, and has announced officially a 2018 return to the brand with a rebooted film. Announced with Alicia Vikander in the role of a younger Lara Croft. The two previous Tomb Raider films, starring Angelina Jolie, were considered successful although suffered diminishing returns.AdvertisementSponsoredIt’s unsurprising that Time Warner, who own both WB, WB Games and have ownership in Square-Enix, Tomb Raider’s developers and publishers, would see this as a potential win for another feature film. Simply because they own into the rights and will profit from any various tie in products and boosted game sales they can sell.On the real absurd front though, you can’t go past the crazy that is Larry Kasanoff. The producer of such brilliance like Mortal Kombat Annihilation is pitching Tetris as a feature film, but more specifically as a sci-fi feature film trilogy no less. He seems fairly confident that the idea is very brilliant, but it certainly begs the question - if the sci-fi concept is so strong, does it really need a game brand like Tetris attached to it just to make it work?Worldwide smash. Likewise, with the smash success of Pokémon Go, a resurgence in the idea of a live action Pokémon movie once again has been making headlines. While Nintendo doesn’t wholly own the brand, they’ve been very shy about making any of their games into live action again after the events surrounding Super Mario Bros. But seemingly bowing to pressure, hype, and probably lots of $$$ The Pokémon Company put the brand out there and Legendary and Universal Pictures have picked up the rights to make a live action feature, due for fast tracked production next year (and likely a 2018 release). Assuming it goes smoothly of course.“We’re not in the film and television business, we’re in the franchise, intellectual property business,” Co-President Nick van Dyk of Activision Blizzard said while talking about turning their famous IP’s into multimedia products . And so much like the competition for console and PC gamers between Call of Duty and Battlefield, so too will the competition for more eyeballs happen those watching a Call of Duty planned feature film, TV series, and general “cinematic universe” by Activision (who also announced a Skylanders based TV series at the same time).Shortly after EA and Paramount followed by announcing a possible Battlefield one as well. So far Battlefield is going just for the “small screen” but if both companies are ambitious as each other it’s not long before they’re also fighting it out for movie releases, and other media products as well. They’re not the only company looking to expand though.Motion pictures of just Ubisoft brands. There is supposed to be a theme park in Malaysia coming as well. While Ubisoft’s confident their own picture sub-company - Ubisoft Motion Pictures - will release a slew of game features of higher quality than the ones before, starting with the long time due Assassin’s Creed feature late this year... but the road still seems bumpy.AdvertisementBetween the company putting out mixed messages about the reason for the film, and the former UMP CEO and Assassin’s Creed producer walking from his role to make his own production company (with a goal to make more video game films from companies OTHER than just Ubisoft) - it’s not looking as bright and cheery as they’d hope. As much good will as a leap of faith video can do, there is no telling just yet how good “Assassin’s Creed” starring and co-produced by Michael Fassbender will be this December until it arrives. Until then, here is the films teaser trailer below. Sometimes though the production seems a little to late to jump on the buzz. Much like peoples’ attacks on The Angry Birds movie coming along too late (although it still went on to make $346M worldwide), New Line has announced they intend to make a film based on the Fruit Ninja mobile game. Welcome to 2010 all over again everyone. With this sort of delay next we should expecting to see a Flappy Bird film scheduled for 2019 at the earliest.From Wired - Abrams and Newell on the Portal feature at DICE 2013. On the same front, while it was originally announced way back at the DICE Summit in 2013 a planned feature film based on the Portal franchise and headed up by J.J. Abrams of all people seems to going back on track according to the man himself. Abrams has been linked with the project right from the start, however his production slate has been fairly busy with Stars, both Trek and Wars, in recent years seemingly delaying the project. If the planned talks with Valve happen much quicker than Half Life 3 has then maybe we’ll see a Portal feature film this side of 2020. But don’t hold your breath.Another previously long time announced game to film comeback is the confirmation that another attempt to make a film based on Gears of War is starting again. Universal has picked up the rights and announced its intent during a showcase of the upcoming Gears of War 4 thanks to the games developer The Coalition’s studio head Rod Fergusson. The film has two other seemingly false starts in the past. Back in 2007 it looked like Warners/New Line was intent on turning the game into a feature, and again in 2012 it looked like a new script was being er.. geared up again. No pun intended. AdvertisementWhat’s more telling towards my look into trend is it’ll clearly join all the other films that just take a basic idea and run with it. Fergusson had this to say: “When you’re doing a movie like this, you have to realise that it’s a different medium with a different audience.” “I think if you were to go in and say, ‘Okay, it’s got to be completely 100 per cent faithful to the game canon,’ or the story of the game, what’s going to end up happening is it’s not going to be the best movie. The big thing we’re really trying to focus on is making the best Gears movie possible, as opposed to the one that’s the most closest to the game.”We’ll see Rod, we’ll see. As I mentioned at the start of the article - breakout success stories can also be snapped up really quickly, which why it wasn’t surprising to see Campo Santo’s Firewatch also announced to be picked up as a feature film. Given the character driven nature of the game it’s unsurprising, but what is interesting is the deal between the company and production house Good Universe to make media that switches back and forth between the two mediums. Some attempts like this have happened in the past by other companies so far with little success (Warner’s attempts with Enter The Matrix way back in 2003 probably being the largest that comes to mind), but they could be creating new ground with this plan should it work.Creative but crazy. Mind you the other posters are even crazier. And finally, Paul W.S. Anderson’s last planned Resident Evil feature film - creatively titled, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter arrives very soon. To be fair when you’ve already subtitled your films Apocalypse, Extinction, et al. there isn’t probably anywhere else you can go on the subtitles probably. Hopefully by calling it the final chapter they can’t come back to it either and the series must end here. AdvertisementAdvertisementAnyway, it hits cinemas first in Japan in late December 2016 and arrives January 2017 almost everywhere else. This is well timed for the release of the next game in the series, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard which also arrives January as well.Recently released have been several trailers all built around the use of GN’R track. Milla Jovovich returns as super powered character Alice with numerous other returning actors as well, with the film returning to Raccoon City and the Hive where it all began in the original film way back in 2002. I’ll ugh, leave the opinions on it until I see the thing itself next year...As for other opinions, well I’ve reached the halfway point on game adaptions... a clear conclusion probably can’t yet be made. But what can we tell so far from the 10 films I have looked at so far though?After my introduction post on the whole concept the first film in the viewing pile was Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead. At the time I found it quite sub par, but given what I’ve sat through since it’s come out looking better than I expected. Ignore the wide level of acting quality, the shockingly dated editing techniques, and the plot holes... and you’ll find it is mostly well shot and entertaining at least, if often for the wrong reasons. Boll might have led to diminishing returns on other game films, but he started slightly stronger than I’d expected to ever give him any credit for.