Gamers were subjected to a number of bad video game movies in 2016 like Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft, but how does the future look for game-to-film adaptations?
It’s no secret that the bulk of video game movies are met with scathing reviews, and with a few exceptions, many also bomb at the box office. However, at the start of 2016, there were those that believed that video game film adaptations would finally buck the trend of being considered bad movies, with promising films like Ratchet & Clank, Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft, and others.
Part of the reason why some people had more optimism for 2016’s slate of video game movies was due to the involvement of the developers behind them. Insomniac not only assisted in the development of the Ratchet & Clank film, but it also released a reimagining of the original to align the franchise’s lore with it. Blizzard offered consultation to the Warcraft filmmakers, and Ubisoft Motion Pictures produced the Assassin’s Creed movie.
Combine the involvement of game creators with all-star Hollywood casts, and it seems like 2016’s game-to-film adaptations had all the tools to succeed. However, Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft, and Ratchet & Clank all opened to negative reviews. Ratchet & Clank bombed at the box office, and Assassin’s Creed is struggling so far, debuting in fifth place during its opening weekend. Warcraft made more money than any other video game movie to date, but even then, it didn’t perform quite as well as people were expecting – especially at the domestic box office.
2016 wasn’t the year of video game movies that many thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Some genuinely believe video game film adaptations will be as big as comic book movies one day, and if we take a look at the future of video game movies, it’s easy to see at least a few promising projects in development.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Release Date: January 27th, 2017
Serving as the final film in the long-running Resident Evil film franchise, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is taking moviegoers back to the Hive where the zombie outbreak began. Albert Wesker, Claire Redfield, and other characters from the games will be featured in the movie, along with an assortment of monsters that fans should be quick to recognize. The film is not likely to do well with critics, but if it’s anything like the other movies, it should be a serviceable action flick that will perform well at the box office, especially since it’s hitting theaters just three days after Resident Evil VII‘s launch.
Release Date: March 16th, 2018
Taking its cues from the gritty Tomb Raider reboot series as opposed to the campy originals, the new Tomb Raider film certainly has potential to outperform its predecessors. While it may be hard for some to imagine a live-action Lara Croft to be played by anyone other than Angelina Jolie at this point, the new Lara, Alicia Vikander, is already an award-winning actress at just 28 years old, and should be more than capable of doing justice to the character. Assuming Tomb Raider can land a solid script, it seems like it has all the other tools necessary to be a quality film.
Release Date: April 20th, 2018
Just one month after Tomb Raider graces the silver screen, fans can look forward to the film adaptation of Rampage. For the uninitiated, Rampage is a video game series about scientists that transform into huge monsters that wouldn’t look out of place in a Godzilla movie. As the monsters, the goal of the game is to terrorize cities by eating citizens and destroying buildings.
The Rampage film adaptation will see San Andreas director Brad Peyton reunited with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and based on the previous collaborations between the two, we have to imagine Rampage won’t have the same lighthearted tone as the games, instead going for a gritty, action feel. That’s just speculation at this point, but regardless, Rampage seems like a tricky video game franchise to adapt, and will have significant competition from higher profile giant monster films on the horizon, like Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Release Date: TBA 2018
After a string of critically panned games, Sega is looking to revitalize consumer confidence in the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. It hopes to accomplish this with new Sonic games in 2017, as well as with a feature film adaptation that will blend CGI and live-action footage, for release at some point in 2018. On paper, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie may not necessarily sound very enticing, but what makes the project intriguing is the involvement of Deadpool director Tim Miller, who is executive producing the blue blur’s film adaptation.
Release Date: TBA
Detective Pikachu, based on an adventure game that so far has only been released in Japan, is a collaboration between The Pokemon Company and Legendary Entertainment. As the first film adaptation since Nintendo’s announcement that it will start making movies, there’s a lot riding on Detective Pikachu‘s success. On paper, the premise seems a little too goofy, but if Nintendo/The Pokemon Company apply the same level of scrutiny to ensuring the film is of a similar quality as its games, then Detective Pikachu could very well be the world’s first truly great video game movie.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
Release Date: TBA
Five Nights at Freddy’s is the eerie tale of a security guard trying to survive a night in a Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza restaurant. Throughout the night, the guard is terrorized by life-sized animatronic animals, which seems like material that would translate well to a solid horror flick. However, the Five Nights at Freddy’s games are short, bite-sized experiences, so it remains to be seen how well the story would work as a feature length film.
Minecraft: The Movie
Release Date: May 24th, 2019
Minecraft remains one of the most popular games out there, available on virtually every modern gaming platform, with its merch flying off store shelves. The persistent popularity of Minecraft means that the 2019 film may not be too little too late, but even so, it will be coming years after the franchise peaked in popularity. Perhaps if rumors of Steve Carell joining the cast turn out to be true, Minecraft: The Movie could get the boost it needs to still be a hit when it finally releases in a couple of years.
Release Date: TBA
Following an impressive teaser trailer, PlayStation fans were looking forward to the Sly Cooper movie, originally slated for release in 2016. However, after Ratchet & Clank bombed at the box office, Sly Cooper was thrown into development hell. It’s hard to say if the Sly Cooper film will ever see the light of day, but since it was actively being worked on up until Ratchet & Clank‘s failure, one has to imagine that a lot of the groundwork has already been completed.
The Last of Us
Release Date: TBA
For some, a film adaptation of The Last of Us may seem pretty redundant, considering the game’s cinematic nature. However, the story of The Last of Us is rich, with complex characters, surprising plot twists, and an engaging post-apocalyptic world, making it strong material for a film adaptation. Unfortunately, The Last of Us movie is stuck in development hell, but maybe excitement over the recently announced The Last of Us: Part II will breathe new life into the project.
Release Date: TBA
Another Naughty Dog film adaptation that is trapped in development hell is the movie version of Uncharted. Like The Last of Us, it seems like an Uncharted film wouldn’t have much to offer that can’t already be found in the games, which may be why the project has struggled to get off the ground. There was hope that the Uncharted movie would start filming as soon as January of 2017, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point, with star Mark Wahlberg abandoning the film.
Release Date: TBA
We know that a Watch Dogs movie is actively being developed, but there are some things that could derail it. For example, Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ Assassin’s Creed is not doing well at the box office, and enthusiasm for the Watch Dogs franchise seems to have waned. After the original released with significantly reduced graphics than what Ubisoft showed at E3, Watch Dogs 2 sold far less than its predecessor, throwing the status of the entire franchise in question, let alone the film adaptation.
An Optimistic Future
2016 failed to shake the stigma that video game movies are bad, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the genre. There are a number of video game movies on the horizon that show promise, and it’s reassuring to know video game companies are more actively involved in the process than ever before. Here’s hoping future video game movies learn from the mistakes of the past, and gamers can start looking forward to quality adaptations of their favorite games.
Which upcoming video game movie are you looking forward to the most? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!