Video game adaptations are generally mediocre at best but Ubisoft have been one of the most successful with last year’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time even though it was considered a flop by movie goers. Grossing around $330 million, producer Jerry Bruckheimer hypothesised Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of a moody Prince would become the next Pirates of the Caribbean. It didn’t. But Ubisoft are confident one of their IPs will make it big on the silver screen and have created a division in France focusing on film and television projects (via Gamesindustry.biz).
Before the horror of Uwe Boll’s Far Cry comes crashing back into our thoughts, the division will have some creditable names attached to it. Former ceo of EuropaCorp, Jean-Julien Baronnet will head up the team joined by Gainsbourg co-producer Didier Lupfer and ex Walt Disney employee Jean de Rivieres. But with all the names in the world it doesn’t stop the preconception that video games movies just aren’t that great.
How can this be changed? By referencing the current Mortal Kombat live-action webisodes. They don’t only capture the spirit of Ed Boon’s fighter but are also really quite good. Other shorts like the Alan Wake prequels and Felicia Day’s The Guild prove that live-action video game shows can work. The big difference is length. Those mentioned are all well under half an hour, some less than ten minutes each. Movies on the other hand don’t work in the same way with the ill-fated idea that action is more important than story. Such a concept is better suited for games based on movies not movies based on games.
No projects have been announced as of yet though one thought is a continuation of the Assassin’s Creed II promotional series, Lineage, by Hybride Technologies, a Canadian special effects house who previously contributed to Sin City and 300. Ubisoft acquired the studio over two years ago putting them to work on Lineage and will probably realign them to be part of this new motion picture division.
If Ubisoft stick to shorter more focused films that draw of the lore of its games, the commitment to live-action projects in this way could be a smart move for the publisher. But if their reasonings revolve around the ease of pumping out more average video game adaptations, hoping to be something they’re not, then things are likely to become a lot more risky. What we ultimately need is more Scott Pilgrims, an awesome movie taking cues from games rather than trying to replicate them. The of course we need people to actually watch them because even something as good a Scott Pilgrim struggled at the box office.