A New Hope for Videogame Movies

The relationship between video games and movies is a rock one, to say the least. More often than not game-to-movie adaptions and game fans end up in bitter and unloving relationships that end in nasty divorce. However, just like real life, there is the exception to the rule. Films like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or Hitman are at least watchable and have received lukewarm reception from the general public, even if they were just loose adaptions of the games. I get it though, it’s hard to stuff 6+ hours of gameplay into a two hour movie. But hey, I can still want more from my video game movies.

Fortunately, it looks like Ubisoft is going to try and bridge the gap with the film adaption of Assassin’s Creed. Ubisoft has created Ubisoft Motion Pictures who will be handling their video game film adaptions. For the Assassin’s Creed movie, Ubisoft has teamed up with New Regency and Fox to co-produce, which means that they will have creative influence and be a part of the whole process. Reason being? I would imagine to keep the integrity of the series intact. The film’s star, Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Inglorious Bastards) brokered the relationship between Ubisoft Motion Pictures and New Regency. Apparently the CEO of New Regency, Brad Weston, thinks quite highly of Fassbender which played a role in their decision to work on the film. Weston also applauded Ubisoft’s ability to maintain the “care and quality” of the franchise.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a masochist. I have a thing for what many consider bad movies and I’ll watch them without thinking twice about it. Usually I end up contemplating what else I could have accomplished within that 90 minutes I had just lost, but I digress. The AC movie strikes me as having legs and I’m hoping that it doesn’t end up with the same fate as, perhaps, the BloodRayne films. Unlike most game-to-movie adaptions, a production company didn’t buy the license to the game and are doing their own thing with it. Ubisoft is going to be working as and with the production company to make sure the film upholds the standards that they have built with the franchise. The creation of a movie division shows that Ubisoft cares about their franchises and wants to make sure that if they are going to be adapted to film, it is done correctly.

Spell my name right or I’ll go ninja on you and stuff! Look at my swords when I’m talking to you!

Earlier this month while attending New York Comic Con, I had the opportunity to screen Mass Effect: Paragon Lost – the animated full length prequel to the game series. Paragon Lost is a collaborative effort between Bioware and IG (Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, Kill Bill vol. 1) and was, in my opinion, done very well and fit within the Mass Effect universe. I will also disclose that Mass Effect is probably my favorite game series of all time. Another film where the developers worked closely with production was Final Fantasy: Advent Children. Square Enix used their own CG team, Visual Works, to put together the film which was well received by gamers. I think these two films are excellent examples of game designers being involved in the movie adaption process and it turning out well. Really, who knows more about the games than the people who created them? Good video game movies can and have been done, and hopefully Ubisoft’s attempt at a live-action Assassin’s Creed lives up to the standard they have established through their award winning game series.

I know it’s a long way off, but I can’t stop thinking about what will happen if the movie does well. Not only will it show that video games can be adapted into main stream movie successes, I’m pretty sure we will see other game companies following Ubisoft’s lead and develop their own motion picture divisions – or, at the very least, work more closely with production companies on adaptions of their games. Perhaps Blizzard will finally embrace a Warcraft film, maybe we’ll get to see Gordan Freeman or GLaDOS come to life on the big screen, and you better believe that Call of Duty will make an appearance if there is money involved. All and all, if this works out for Ubisoft, I expect to see some other game companies follow in their footsteps.

The Assassin’s Creed film is currently in pre-production and should have a script, cast, and director in place by Summer ’13. They also hope to be releasing the movie in tandum with another installment of the video game series.

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