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Legendary Pictures Options Film Rights to Mass Effect

Way back in September of 2008, Avi Arad, ex-CEO of Marvel studios, optioned the movie rights to the 2007 hit game Mass Effect. Being one of my all-time favorite games, I was both happy and concerned.

Mass Effect told a wonderful story, in a brand new and original sci-fi universe with lovable and well thought-out characters. The way the game was presented, notably during conversations and cutscenes, was very cinematic with a clear emphasis on showcasing the beautifully rendered graphics and character animations as if it were a film.

This would definitely make for one amazing film franchise, except for the fact that all video game movies suck. Legendary Pictures looks to change that by optioning the rights to EA and BioWare's Mass Effect, with Warner Bros. set to distribute the film. They're already looking at a writer to pen the script.

As I always say, video games based on movies suck and movies based on video games suck. Why? Money doesn't seem to be an issue so in the case of movies based on video games it must come down to those in creative control. In nearly every instance of someone adapting a video game into a feature film, they (for whatever unknown reason) continue to miss the absolute key ingredients in what made the game successful. Sometimes they abandon or completely change key parts of the story or characters, sometimes they change action sequences for the worse and sometimes they don't seem to understand what people liked about the games.

In Max Payne they told a dumbed-down story and removed the trademark bullet time action sequences; in Doom they abandoned the setting and took out the villains which made the Doom video games what they were and in the upcoming Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, they've seemingly paid little attention to the parkour and cool swordfights which made up the fun gameplay.

There's a lot of hope that Prince of  Persia may turn the tide against this depressing and unnecessary trend in the industry but from what I've seen so far, this likely isn't the case.

I have high hopes for what could be the Mass Effect movie but only if they respect the source material. There's been plenty of interest in putting the Mass Effect movie into production, especially since the success and critical acclaim surrounding the release of Mass Effect 2 earlier this year, and the folks at Legendary understand the potential of the property.

Here's what Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures has to say:

“Mass Effect is a tremendous property ripe for translation to the big screen. Mass Effect is a prime example of the kind of source material we at Legendary like to develop; it has depth, compelling characters and an engaging back story.  This coupled with Avi and Ari producing and the skills of a great team adapting the screenplay, are the start of turning this smash videogame based property into a successful feature film.”

Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) is currently in talks to pen the screenplay for the Mass Effect film. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are producing alongside Ari Arad with BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk acting as executive producers. Mass Effect executive producer Casey Hudson will also exec produce.

Are you excited for a Mass Effect film franchise? Can they do it justice?

While we're on the topic, join our discussion on who should play Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect movie. I've always been a proponent of Matthew Fox having the part, and with Lost coming to an end yesterday, what better timing.

LEGENDARY PICTURES OPTIONS FILM RIGHTS TO EA AND BIOWARE’S MASS EFFECT

BURBANK, CA. SAN FRANCISCO, CA (May 24, 2010) — Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today announced that Legendary Pictures, whose successful co-productions include The Dark Knight, 300, Clash of the Titans, The Hangover and Watchmen, has acquired theatrical feature film rights to the hit videogame franchise, Mass Effect.  The project will also fall under Legendary's co-production and co-financing agreement with Warner Bros., who will distribute the film worldwide. The producers are in discussions with Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) to draft a screenplay based on the epic science fiction game series.  Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will produce the film with Avi and Ari Arad. BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will serve as executive producers, as will Mass Effect executive producer Casey Hudson.

BioWare’s epic science fiction series takes place in the year 2183 and follows Commander Shepard of the SS Normandy who leads a team on a mission to defeat an ancient alien race that invades the galaxy every 50,000 years, wiping out all organic life. The most recent game in the series, Mass Effect 2, was released in January of 2010, and earned rave reviews from critics worldwide.*

Mass Effect is a tremendous property ripe for translation to the big screen,” said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures.  “Mass Effect is a prime example of the kind of source material we at Legendary like to develop; it has depth, compelling characters and an engaging back story.  This coupled with Avi and Ari producing and the skills of a great team adapting the screenplay, are the start of turning this smash videogame based property into a successful feature film.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Legendary,” said producer Avi Arad.  “EA and BioWare are terrific partners who have created a brilliant piece of fiction with a universe filled with amazing aliens and technology.  More importantly, though, they created a parable whose conflicts mirror the ones we currently face in our own world.  This story emphasizes the need for all cultures to learn to work together.  All this magic is presented in a fast paced action-adventure that makes for the best kind of movie experience.”

“At BioWare, we’ve always thought of Mass Effect as having the depth, emotion and plot twists perfectly suited for an adaptation to a motion picture,” said Casey Hudson. “With Legendary and Avi and Ari Arad attached, we believe that the Mass Effect movie will be an extraordinary entertainment event that realizes our vision for the franchise and thrills fans.”

Pat O’Brien, VP of EA Entertainment added “The mission of EA Entertainment is to take key EA properties and find additional ways to bring these properties to people.  We can’t think of a better fit than Mass Effect and we couldn’t be more excited to bring Commander Shepard’s adventures to the silver screen.”

Mass Effect 2 is available on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC. Assets are available at info.ea.com. For more information on Mass Effect, go to http://masseffect.bioware.com/.

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