The utterly fail-tastic track record of the videogame-to-movie adaptation is very much on a par with the professional boxing record of infamous British journeyman Peter Buckley. Hilariously, Buckley’s nickname was “The Professor”, but the only thing he could possibly have been knowledgeable about was the many different flavours of cold, hard canvas. He fought professionally in an astonishing 300 bouts, and lost 256 of them.
It is widely agreed that there has only ever been one truly successful game-to-flick adaptation – Paul WS Anderson’s outstandingly daft Mortal Kombat – which is now over fifteen years old. Since then, gamers have been subjected to the heinous, inexplicable career of the videogame industry’s perpetual enemy Uwe Boll; Paul WS Anderson’s very own horrendously dull Resident Evil series; and Angelina Jolie‘s computer-enhanced cleavage, which bounced around joyously in the belief that it had the power to distract cinema goers from a crippling lack of narrative coherence. Twice.
And yet, Hollywood continues to call. A game doesn’t ever hit it big these days without news arriving imminently that Hollywood, and occasionally some pipe-dreaming A-list talent, is on the case with a big-screen adaptation. Even on those rare occasions that A-list talent does get hastily involved, the odds of the project ever getting out of development hell are roughly the same as those that Peter Buckley faced in the twilight years of his incomparable career.
Here are the top five in-development videogame adaptations that are almost entirely unlikely to ever see the light of day…
Pirates Of The Caribbean director Gore Verbinski was in pre-production for almost a year with his adaptation of Bioshock, until he realised that he couldn’t make it for less than 200 million dollars, which nobody in Hollywood was willing to pony up. The directorial duties have since passed on to 28 Weeks Later‘s Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, but the project has been on hold since late last year, as the producers attempt to find somewhere “affordable” to film it. This delay has meant that Fresnadillo is rumoured to have already moved on to another project, and although the script has been penned by the extremely reliable John Logan, films of this size rarely (if ever) survive the departure of two directors.
Boasting a script written by Stuart Beattie (Collateral) and Alex Garland (28 Days Later) and with a gargantuan built-in fanbase, the Halo movie’s chances of survival appeared, until recently, to be bulletproof. Once the essential but astronomical budget came to light (said to be, like Bioshock’s, north of 200 million dollars) and three revered filmmakers all jumped ship one after another (Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Jackson and District 9‘s Neil Blomkamp) and the Halo film must now look like a dangerous money sink to everyone in Hollywood. Halo: Reach may heat it up again, but for now, this is most definitely dead in the water.
Silent Hill was an extremely glossy and well-made piece of work, and yet it somehow managed to be beneath even the worst of Uwe Boll’s output. It was a vaguely eerie kaleidoscope of a film, in which some reasonably big names (Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell) ran around for ninety minutes trying to pretend that they knew what the hell was going on. There is currently no talent attached to the sequel (neither behind nor in front of the camera) but apparently it is due for release, in cinemas, in 2011. The original was only beloved by the fans, and it barely made its money back. The sequel’s chances of ever existing? Zip.
2. The Sims
Almost as maddeningly pointless as Ridley Scott’s allegedly upcoming Monopoly film, this was clearly the result of a drug-induced conversation between two Bel-Air suits who liked the look of the figures (the original Sims game shifted 16 million units on its own) but didn’t bother to do any research. A faithful adaptation of The Sims would create a new benchmark in cinematic boredom, so if money has changed hands for the rights, then someone is laughing, and hard. Because those suits would’ve been better off buying hot air.
1. Dark Void
Capcom were clearly hoping for a hot new franchise kick-starter with this extremely enjoyable mess, but they were also hoping that the thing would make them tons of cash. Despite a small but vocal fanbase, who continue to leap to its defense at every turn, there is no shying away from the fact that the entire industry has already decided that Dark Void was a cut-and-dried flop. Nothing will ever chill the people of Hollywood quite like the word “flop”, and the planned movie – announced before the game was even finished – won’t survive the association. According to the imdb, Brad Pitt is still very much attached to the project. We’ll believe that when we see it. And we won’t see it.
Which videogame would you like to see adapted for the big screen?