by Ninth Batter (You can find Ninth on his blog Nobody Like You. Where he works on a machinima of the same name. He is also a frequent contributor to Polygamerous)
Remember the editorial I wrote about videogame movies? Well I have recently had an extraordinary and insightful look into the future of videogame movies. This last Monday I was invited to a dinner party in lovely Burbank California(well as lovely as anything can be that’s located 12 miles from downtown L.A.) by a friend and former co-worker. I won’t get into the specifics but in attendance were people from: IGN, G4, Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures, EA, Microsoft, Insomniac Games, Bioware, and CBS.
A good part of the dinner was spent talking about Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, Heavy Rain, and World of Warcraft. But about half way through the dinner(it was pizza and buffalo wings if anyone was curious) the topic changed to videogame movies, specifically ones that are planned on being developed. I was truly amazed at the list of “probably gonna be made” and “working on getting made”. What was a surprise to me was how many animated movies are being planned. Here’s a list of some of the animated movies discussed.
- Ratchet and Clank feature film to be released. It is being intended as a children’s movie in the style of a Pixar film.
- Crackdown Anime. To be intended as a straight to DVD release.
- God of War Anime. Another straight to DVD.
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic Anime. This one really got my attention. Right now the plan is for it to be released co-siding with the release of the Old Republic MMO. It is likely to be released as two separate movies covering the story of Revan. Their idea is to have the character of Revan be a bit morally ambiguous, sometimes making a “bad” choice but doing it for a greater good. The first movie would be covering the start of KOTOR to the first fight with Darth Malak and the second covering the rest of the game. The emphasis of the movies will be about story telling with short bits of fighting and light saber fights in the style of the original trilogy(more character interaction and less leaping from one lava bucket to another). Needless to say the entire dinner party simultaneously nerdgasimed.
In all honesty animated movies make a lot of sense for videogames. Most of the cannon and imagery for videogames will have to be either animated or computer generated. Recently Dante’s Inferno released a animated film to co-side the game and it has done pretty well. Also, a movie with computer generated models to go with real actors can take 2-3 years to make while an anime can be made in about 6 months if you have a few studios working on it at the same time. Which brought the dinner conversation to it’s next topic, planned live action videogame movies.
- Halo. This one has been around for a while but Bungie has the creative rights and won’t start production until they have a great script and director.
- World of Warcraft. This is another one we’ve known about and is actually in development.. The main character is set to be a new hero described as a "kick-ass Human" and "Anti-Thrall". With Sam Raimi as the director and Charles Rovan producing, it’s being set up to be a blockbuster.
- Gears of War. It will follow delta squad and keep all the same characters but the plot may change from that of the game.
- Bioshock. This one actually surprised me. The talk there was to have it be about the fall of Rapture but keeping the character Jack and the “would you kindly” plot device.
- Fallout. The “current” plan is to have it set in the world of Fallout 3 with the main character being a vault dweller but not necessary have the plot from Fallout 3. However until they’re sure they can’t be sued by Interplay they won’t do anything.
- Mass Effect. They want to have it set up as a movie trilogy being almost identical to the “good” Sheppard storyline of the three games. However some characters may have a less important roles or be cut from the script altogether. One of the characters mentioned being cut was Kaidan Alenko and having just Ashley. Also Sheppard will be male and be modeled after the “default Sheppard“.
- Legend of Zelda. Apparently they plan on taking their time making it, some 3 years and it’s story will be unique, not following any of the games. Although Link will be rescuing Zelda and Ganondorf will be the villain. They want it to have the “feel” of a Lord of the Rings movie but have it be less of an epic.
It should be noted that most of the live action movies have been put on hold while they wait to see how the World of Warcraft movie fairs. The only problem with waiting to make a live action movie is videogames can be the flavor of the month and live action takes a long time to make. But fortunately these franchises have had a big enough impact that they will have a good 5 year span to start production of the films. And it should all be noted that there are MANY A-list actors interested in being in these films. One that really surprised me was Robert Downey Jr. expressing interest in playing either Atlas or Jack in Bioshock.
So basically the success or failure of the World of Warcraft movie will greatly influence videogame movies to come. If it does poorly plan on seeing many of these titles lose their funding. And be expecting a lot more animated movies about videogames to come. But all in all this appears to be a really good direction for gaming media. After all, almost every good sci-fi and horror media to come out recently have been videogames. And the consensus of the discussion is that videogame movies are being set up to be the next “superhero” movies.
Oh yeah I should probably note that all of this took place at a unofficial dinner party and can/should not be taken as what will be happening in either the movie or videogame industry. It is all subject to change and I do not speak on the part of any of the companies or products mentioned. And you can’t sue me now because I gave a disclaimer. KOTOR movies woot!