The history of video game movie adaptations is pretty notoriously bad. Ok, Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider were alright. Wreck-It Ralph was a ton of fun, though that doesn’t really count. There’s just something about the transition from what’s fun in gameplay to what’s fun to watch that foxes filmmakers up.
But that doesn’t mean Hollywood won’t keep trying. And it seems they’ll be trying a lot in the coming years. We already knew about Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed adaptations, with the key attachments of Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender, respectively. Both of those projects are in development with few details as to when they’ll be out; IMDb lists Assassin’s Creed as arriving in 2015, but the script is still in treatment/outline form.
Then came yesterday that another Tom Clancy property (in addition to Splinter Cell) would be getting a movie adaptation: Ghost Recon. Further, Michael Bay is attached, which seems like a weird choice given that the Ghost Recon games include quite a bit of stealth. Only so much stuff for the king of explosions to blow up and plausibly get away with it.
But that’s not all. Hot on the heels of a well-received Tomb Raider reboot by developer Crystal Dynamics, a long-rumored new Tomb Raider movie is in the works. Like the game, it seems it will be a reboot of the franchise. Attached to write the script is Marti Noxon, best known for her work in television. Noxon has consulted, produced, and written on shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, and Glee. Her most recent film outings were both in 2011, when she wrote both Fright Night (starring Anton Yelchin) and the sci-fi action film I Am Number Four.
Finally, we have the wholly new game-to-film announcements that have come down in the midst of E3. (Really it’s not that odd that this is all coming out now. The biggest gaming convention in the U.S., hosted next door to Hollywood? But I digress…) As first reported by Variety, he open world series Far Cry and new – yet to be released – IP Watchdogs will both be getting movie adaptations, as will the Raving Rabbids series. And this is where it gets a little weird. Far Cry and Watchdogs both make a certain amount of sense. Both games with strong narrative elements. Far Cry 3 appeared on many critics’ top ten lists at the end of last year, and the game was lauded for its main villain and character development.
Watchdogs is a near-future cyber thriller that will certainly be getting a boost from the recent mess with NSA surveillance, which is a major theme in the game. But Rabbids is primarily a minigame collection featuring crazed, rabbit-like creatures native to the Rayman games.
And perhaps there it is. As we mentioned yesterday, Despicable Me was popular primarily for its goofy, troublemaking minions. The rabbids fit that mold perfectly. So perfectly, one has to wonder if audiences won’t be tired of that particular brand of slapstick by the time this film arrives. The film will be differentiating itself visually, at least – the plan right now is for the project to be live action with CGI rabbid additions.
Its also worth noting that it’s one company making this push to film rather than the videogame industry as a whole. Every one of these projects is published by Ubisoft. And although we have been using the word “adaptation” thus far, perhaps that implies a more direct correlation than will actually exist. “These are not adaptations,” according to Ubisoft’s Jean-Julien Baronnet. “We will create a brand new story, always.” Ubisoft will be developing the scripts themselves before going out to studios for production in order to maintain creative control over their intellectual properties.