Based on booming sales, Hollywood is taking video games very seriously and looking at them as a potential source for the next mega franchise.

Video Games Gun For Theatres

on June 17, 2008 by Phil Contrino
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By Adam Clement

The flavor of the month (make that past few years) has no doubt stemmed from a geek fetish revolving around all things comic books. Many heroes have leapt from the page to the screen, capturing the attention of both fanboys and general audiences in the process.

Now, with the goal of continuing its reach over the strongest target demographics, Hollywood has slowly and surely begun to increase its hold on another geek fetish: video games.

Considering that the best audiences have gotten out of past video game adaptations is a lousy middle ground between Silent Hill and Mortal Kombat, talk of the soon to be adapted Prince of Persia and Gears of War sounds all the more promising as mainstream Hollywood puts its money where its consumers’ blistered fingers are.

Yet what of the titles waiting in the wings, begging for glorious silver screen translation? The following are a few high profile games whispered to move from the control of gamers’ hands to those of industry types.

Grand Theft Auto

This highly successful series boasts over 76 million copies sold worldwide and despite its controversial violence and misogynistic themes, it has no less found appeal among a near-universal demographic of gamers. Assuming the role of a conflicted anti-hero thug, players operate in and about large cities (faux caricatures of New York, Miami and the like). With this great power, however, does not come great responsibility, as the open-endedness allows for carjacking, purchasing hookers and performing odd jobs for various criminal outfits.

High Score: The source material certainly proves intriguing enough, and with the reputation of a stellar story behind each game, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to create a substantial film transition. Also worth mentioning are the high-profile actors who have lent their vocal talents, including Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Liotta, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Robert Loggia and James Woods. Given the established Hollywood presence already involved in the games, a film seems like a natural extension.

Game Over: Street dramas involving cops and robbers are yesterday’s news. In addition, most of the GTA games are derivative works of archetypal Hollywood films such as Goodfellas and Scarface.

Halo

This franchise has already proven itself as a high-ancillary brand through a book series, toys and even soft drink promotions. An otherworldly odyssey, Halo extends far beyond the three games in the series. Gamers (over 20 million) have found wielding lasers and swords on behalf of a masked space Spartan known only as “Master Chief” thrilling enough to place the title among the most successful on the Xbox platform. But how well would this game shoot on film?

High Score: As it stands, the franchise has come full circle in a trilogy—something the film industry is always infatuated with. Since Halo features an anonymous hero and a sprawling epic backdrop, infinite liberties are at a director’s disposal with what is already a more than ambitious premise. This, coupled with the sci-fi push and popularization of once-nerd-exclusive properties (see Battlestar Galactica and Transformers ), indicates a surefire blockbuster in the making.

Game Over: Seems the journey to celluloid for Halo proves just as dizzying as the game’s combat, because a script by Alex Garland ( 28 Days Later ) was put on the back burner after studios balked at the projected budget. Not to mention, Peter Jackson has also tried and failed to get the project to liftoff; and if the man who brought Middle-earth to life can’t do it, any script might as well be tossed into Mount Doom. It seems studios are reluctant to imitate the overwhelming proportions of the game, unless filmmakers sacrifice effects or scale.

Metal Gear Solid

This espionage-driven action game, which just released its fourth entry this summer, has video game players and studio players alike longing to see Metal Gear make good on its cinematic characteristics. Centered around an operative sneaking in and about mercenary forces and battling eccentric villains along the way, Metal Gear exploits crafty gameplay with well-choreographed visuals. Fitting then, that stylistic director Kurt Wimmer ( Equilibrium ) is rumored to helm the project. However, the style-over-substance formula he used in Ultraviolet fell flat on its face.

High Score: Christian Bale was rumored to be in talks to adorn the camo as Solid Snake before his commitment to the new Terminator sequels was set in stone. Despite his leave, producers seem to be barking up the right tree for talent. Furthermore, series game writer Hideo Kojima is cooperating with the production to guarantee a faithful adaptation, which will surely please game fans.

Game Over: The drawback keeping Metal Gear from being completely “Solid” is that Solid Snake’s character is no new face to the big screen. The game’s prototypical hero was supposedly molded after Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken in Escape From New York.

All games considered, adaptations are a tricky business that often, and easily do, go wrong. Just look at Super Mario Bros.. Or not.

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