Why do movie studios continue to insist on making movies based on video games? Probably because there’s more money in it than you might think.
Last week came word that Len Wiseman (“Live Free or Die Hard”) has been tapped to direct a film version of Gears of War. Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) is helming the movie adaptation of BioShock, while John Moore (“Flight of the Phoenix”) is directing a movie version of Max Payne starring Mark Wahlberg that comes out in October. Bruce Willis is reportedly close to an agreement to star in a movie version of Kane & Lynch.
For many gamers, the only vision we have of game-based movies are the terrible adaptations of Uwe Boll, creator of such critical and commercial flops as “House of the Dead,” “BloodRayne” and “Alone in the Dark.” But the truth is that many game-based movies have grossed serious bucks.
For every “Double Dragon” ($2.3 million U.S. box-office gross), there’s a “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” ($131 million U.S. box office plus $62.8 million in U.S. video rentals).
According to the box-office tracking site boxofficemojo.com, each of the three “Resident Evil” movies grossed more than $100 million in worldwide box office, not counting video rentals, sales and other revenue. With that kind of money at stake, it’s no wonder that a handful of stinkers hasn’t dissuaded movie studios from turning to games for inspiration.
Of course, that just makes it all the more inexplicable that the most successful cinematic games have yet to hit the big screen.
Peter Jackson was at one time working on a Halo movie that was to be directed by Neill Blomkamp.
That project ran into a landmine when Microsoft’s financial demands were apparently too steep for any studio to stomach, and the movie has essentially been canceled.
Metal Gear Solid would also seem to be a no-brainer movie, as MGS4 is as much movie as game, and everybody loves it.
But a movie adaptation of the series seems almost as unlikely as a Halo movie at this point as the MGS movie has been stuck in development for years.
Although the mysteriously still-employed Mr. Boll will likely continue to depress the average review scores and box-office takes for game-based movies, there’s reason to be hopeful. The actors and directors signing on for the most high-profile projects are professional, competent moviemakers.
I’m unabashedly curious to see what BioShock and Gears of War look like; even Max Payne, a cops-and-robbers game inspired by noir movies, might well survive the translation back to cinema.
But, man, I want my Halo movie.
I have no doubt it will come eventually. There’s too much money at stake.
I just hope Uwe Boll doesn’t direct it.