Producer Nick Nunziata shares why the Saints Row movie never made it into production, citing the bankruptcy of developer THQ for the movie's cancellation.
Despite a long history of unprofitable attempts, movie studios continue to draw on video games for movie inspiration. In fact, there are currently a handful of video game movies currently in production or planning, including Assassin’s Creed and The Division, with more sure to follow.
It isn’t surprising then, that at one point Saints Row was slated for the movie treatment. Unfortunately, after shifting around for a while, the project was put on hold with no current plans to carry it forward. Producer Nick Nunziata recently shared with Fandom why the Saints Row movie never materialized, citing the financial challenges and eventual bankruptcy of developer and publisher THQ as the primary reason.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, THQ struggled financially for years and was never able to get itself in a solid position in the industry. Despite the fame of the Saints Row games, THQ hit rock bottom and was forced to file for bankruptcy and sell off its assets in 2013.
In the article on Fandom, Nunziata revealed a few details about the Saints Row movie plot and the team’s planned direction:
So, our plot ended up hitting a lot of the same notes as SRII, with the Boss as a Count of Monte Cristo figure coming in to reclaim what was once his. Throw into the mix Dane Vogel wanting to convert a chunk of Stilwater into a private prison (something that’s still relevant today) and a lot of over-the-top action and darkly humorous social commentary (a la the original RoboCop), and that was essentially our SR.
The writing team behind the Saints Row movie were inspired heavily by the 1981 dystopian action film Escape from New York by John Carpenter. However, due to worries about an R-rating, the screenwriters developed a softer, PG-13 version that would potentially bring in more viewers. Additionally, Dwayne Johnson showed interest in the film, which, according to Nunziata, pushed the team to focus on a teen-friendly production.
Dwayne Johnson was very interested at one point. One of the worries, for me anyway, of having a big star like that, was that we’d have to tone things down. This was going to be hard R, balls to the walls. Sure enough, I was asked to prepare a draft that was PG-13. Soften the violence, no nudity, only one “f***” allowed. If you’ve played the game, you’ll know how hard that would be and still keep it SR.
It’s too bad THQ couldn’t hold on a little longer. With the massive success of Deadpool earlier this year, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars with a hard R rating, there may have yet been an opportunity for an R-rated Saints Row film. Hopefully the current generation of video game movies will find success among audiences, and that will push movie studios to once again consider past projects, including Saints Row.
What do you think about Nunziata’s plans for a Saints Row movie? Do you think it would have been a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.