Video game to movie adaptations have ranged from moderately successful (The Resident Evil Franchise) to terrible flops (any Uwe Boll adaptation), so it might come as a surprise that Warner Bros is already looking beyond the narrative-rich console market to simple-storied mobile games for its next game adaptation. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to report that Gravity producer David Heyman was in talks to buy the movie rights to Temple Run, the blockbuster “endless-runner” that first premiered on the Apple App Store August 4, 2011.
Hollywood’s interest in adapting mobile games is fairly new, with the immensely popular Angry Birds being the only other property which has drawn interest. The conceit to Temple Run already seems to be an homage to Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Indiana Jones franchise, which could make a Temple Run flick a dangerously close adaptation to a video game that was based off of a movie. The narrative to the game is simple: an explorer has stolen a golden idol from a temple and is chased by “demonic monkeys.” The gameplay features the player running through the ruins of an Aztec-looking temple, swiping to dodge pitfalls or duck under trees, and if the player failed to swipe in time, he dies. The goal was to continually beat the high scores of other Temple Run players online – with no specific ending to the actual explorer-running-from-demon-monkeys narrative.
It’s interesting to note that Temple Run‘s developer, Imangi, has previously worked with Walt Disney Pictures to create versions of the game that feature characters from their Pixar-hit Brave and the recently released Oz the Great and Powerful. If Warner Bros successfully acquires the rights to the hit game Variety reports that Lynn Harris will oversee the film adaptation for the studio. Heyman also produced all eight Harry Potter films for Warner and is currently working on StudioCanal’s Paddington with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.
If Temple Run and Angry Birds are successful, studios are going to have a whole new generation of games for source material. The next decade’s movie slate may be filling up with a Plants vs Zombies trilogy, or an adaptation of Candy Crush Saga. While mobile game adaptations may not seem the obvious choice, it could prove to be in the best interest for studios to have a narrative blank-slate. Following the model of Disney’s ride-turned-mega-franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, mobile games could be a platform for Captain Jack Sparrow-esque icons to while having the free reign to author story based off simple premises.