From Playstation to Projector: Ten Video Games Slated to Become Movies

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Anyone watching the movements of Tinseltown dealmakers can’t have missed that producers keep on securing rights to turn video games into silver-screen spectacles.  Maybe it’s because Hollywood sees its financial salvation in the titles of another medium, or because the ascendant agents, directors and execs grew up playing video games and don’t seem them as a foreign language. Even if Prince of Persia isn’t a runaway hit (hey, we liked it) it’s a safe bet that people are going to keep trying to strike gold with a big-budget video game movie. So, let’s see what’s already been optioned and run down what Hollywood has to focus on to get some love.

Mass Effect

Movie Studio/Producers:
Warner Brothers (The Dark Knight, Green Lantern, Watchmen), Legendary Pictures (300, Ninja Assassin, Inception)

Talent Attached:
Initially, Avi Arad optioned the rights to Bioware’s epic action/RPG sci-fi series in September of 2008. Then, Legendary Pictures purchased the option, with Arad, his son Avi, Bioware’s founding doctors and Casey Hudson all aboard as producers. Arad was Marvel’s movie guy until 2009 and helped kickstart the first wave of movies based on the publisher’s characters. No one’s been confirmed yet but reports say that talks have been happening with Mark Protosevich for the film’s screenplay. Protosevich (I Am Legend) and is working on Marvel/Paramount’s upcoming Thor film.

What They Need to Nail:
The sprawling political ecosystem of the Alliance and the way Shepard’s choices affect his crew and the people he interacts with. The action in Mass Effect games is all well and good, but really they’re about story and how the player shapes it. Since you can’t give viewers control over the plot, the film needs to focus on showing how the things Shepard does ripple outward across the universe.

(More on Techland:  In Which We Interview Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Casey Hudson from BioWare)

Kane & Lynch

Movie Studio/Producers:
Lionsgate (Daybreakers, Killers, The Expendables)

Talent Attached:
In a casting switch, Jamie Foxx will star as the mentally unhinged member of this criminal odd couple; Bruce Willis plays the imprisoned ex-merc being framed into pulling off a heist. Screenwriter Kyle Ward (3 Rounds) penned the script for adaptation for the IO Interactive game. Simon Crane–stunt co-ordinator on X-Men 3: The Last Stand–was supposed to make this his directorial debut but rumors say he’s out.

What They Need to Nail:
The antagonistic partnership between the title characters and the Eidos shooter’s heavily stylized missions. While the gameplay in K&L was glitchy and frustrating, it served up a strong storyline and ambitious set pieces.

(More on Techland:  New Inception Trailer: Hooking the Heist Thriller up to the Dream Matrix)

Bioshock

Movie Studio/Producers:
Universal Studios (Repo Men, Get Him to the Greek, The Adjustment Bureau)

Talent Attached:
This deal made waves when it was announced that Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean fame was attached to direct but he had to bail. The new director is Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later). No actors yet, but there’ve been rumors of Wentworth Miller (Prison Break) playing the lead role of Jack. The Spanish helmer will be working with a script by John Logan (Sweeney Todd, The Aviator) based on game creator Ken Levine’s story.

What They Need to Nail:
The decaying art-deco atmospherics of Rapture, Bioshock’s underwater city. Lead character Jack was a player-controlled shell with no real personality of his own. The game’s soul shone through the corridors of Rapture, and the set designs need to be amazing to capture the haunting feel of the game.

(More on Techland: Rapture: 10 Years Later (Lev and I Freak Out Over BioShock 2) )

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Movie Studio/Producers:
Sony Pictures (Spider-Man), Atlas Entertainment (12 Monkeys, Three Kings, The International)

Talent Attached:
Sony supposedly loves the take by screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Sahara, the new Conan the Barbarian). Discussions for a director are happening and one high-profile name to pop up has been David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees). Casting rumors for lead character Nathan Drake has teased everyone from Nathan Fillion to Hugh Jackman as in the running.

What They Need to Nail:
Exotic locales and the snarky charm of Nathan Drake. The treasure hunter’s rougish charm is practically a gameplay element and he’s got tons more personality than most gaming leads. He’s impulsive and fallible, something that the right casting could convey.

(More on Techland:  Video Game Award Season: Uncharted 2 Unlocks Trophies at GDC)

Infamous

Movie Studio/Producers:
Avi Arad Productions (Lost Planet, Mass Effect)

Talent Attached:
Script’s supposedly being written by Sheldon Turner (The Longest Yard remake, Up in the Air) but no further details have surfaced.

What They Need to Nail:
The way that Cole McGrath’s electric superpowers link him to Empire City. The best narrative element about the PS3 action/adventure exclusive is how Cole is singlehandedly bringing the city back to life, after it got wrecked by the accident that gave him his powers.

(More on Techland:  Rapture Match #2: Cole McGrath (inFAMOUS) vs. Zeus (God of War))

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