Like the film industry, video games are a tricky business. Combine the two, and things get even trickier. Hollywood has yet to produce a truly standout adaptation of a video game property, but it isn’t for lack of trying. The most recent example, is this summer’s Warcraft. But despite a proven director and amazing special effects, the film languished at the domestic box office — though its international take was far more impressive.
Next up to bat is Assasin’s Creed, based on the popular game series by Ubisoft. Starring Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises), the film is set to dig into the games’ wacky mythos, which mentally sends people back into the shoes of their ancestors through their genetic memory. Assassinations typically follow.
“It is a lot more a marketing thing, it is also good for the image of the brand… The purpose is to bring Assassin’s Creed to more people. We have our core fans, but what we would like is to put this franchise in front of a lot more people who, maybe, will then pick up future Assassin’s Creed games.”
Rather than sound like they’re all about the money, Ubisoft issued a follow-up statement:
“Ubisoft’s core vision is to create top quality entertainment and experiences. For the Assassin’s Creed film, we have worked closely with our partners at New Regency and 20th Century Fox as well as the talented cast and production team from the very beginning to ensure we deliver a quality experience to ours fans. We strongly believe the Assassin’s Creed brand has this cross-over appeal that will please both video games fans and movie goers.”
It’s unfortunate that Ubisoft feels the need to clarify that they care about creating a good experience. Both the film and video game industries are businesses, and therefore must make money to survive. But both industries also require incredibly talented, hard working, and passionate artists and technicians. These wouldn’t have chosen such a tough industry if they hadn’t believed they couldn’t have created a memorable experience for an audience. Despite products not always turning out terribly well, caring seems a given.
Synergy and cross-promotion being what they are, Corre’s statement still stands. The Assassin’s Creed video game series has seen its fair share of struggles over the years. Despite being one of the more popular game franchises in recent history, iterations like 2014’s Unity received poor reviews and backlash from fans for releasing in a buggy state and feeling generally incomplete. 2015’s chapter, Syndicate was much better received. But 2016 marks the first year since the series began in 2007 that a major Assassin’s Creed title is not scheduled. Still, a major motion picture fills that gap rather nicely to assure the series isn’t forgotten.
This isn’t necessarily a bad sign for the game series either. Some fans have cited rushed and overlapping production schedules as a possible reason for the series occasionally not meeting its potential. A missed year for Creed may very well mean the next chapter will feature much stronger innovations on what makes the brand special.
Whether or not the film is able to escape the curse of game-to-film irrelevancy is yet to be seen. We’ll all find out this winter, when it swan dives into theaters.
Assassin’s Creed opens in U.S. theaters on December 21, 2016.