There is a whole lot riding on Assassin’s Creed. As the first movie release from Ubisoft’s shiny new film production branch Ubisoft Motion Pictures, it also represents the first time that a live-action video game movie will be made by the same company that produced the original video game. Comparisons to Marvel Studios have inevitably cropped up, and as such many gamers are waiting with baited breath to see if Assassin’s Creed will be UMP’s Iron Man.
The studio certainly isn’t dithering over future plans. Splinter Cell has Tom Hardy attached to star, a script in place and Doug Liman set to direct, and a movie based on sandbox action game Watch Dogs – which hasn’t even been released yet – already has Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick working on a script. Other projects currently in development at UMP include movies based on Far Cry, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Raving Rabbids.
Assassin’s Creed is first up to bat, however, and Deadline reports that Justin Kurzel is now in talks with UMP and New Regency to direct it. This probably has more than a little to do with the fact that Kurzel recently directed Michael Fassbender (who will both produce and star in Assassin’s Creed) in an adaptation of Macbeth. While negotiations are still ongoing, the summer 2015 release date for Assassin’s Creed necessitates that production begin within the next few months, so expect a deal to close soon.
Much like the original screenwriter for Assassin’s Creed, playwright Michael Lesslie, Kurzel’s film credits are currently quite limited. Macbeth was his second feature film, the first being a true crime drama called Snowtown that was described by critics as being dark, grisly and often tough to watch. It would be very interesting to see what a director with a background in independent film might do with a major franchise and a substantial budget. Lesslie’s original draft of the script has since been revised by Minority Report writer Scott Frank and Exodus duo Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, which makes it a lot harder to guess at whose voice will end up coming through the strongest.
Assassin’s Creed will have an entirely new story rather than one adapted from one of the games, but the setting is currently unknown. It could potentially take place in the modern day or even the future, since a film wouldn’t necessarily be tied down to the games’ central premise of a modern day protagonist “playing” through their ancestors’ memories, but the fact that Kurzel is in line for the directing job makes a period setting seem more likely.
The Assassin’s Creed universe contains a noticeable tendency for storylines to gravitate towards eras of revolution and political upheaval. Ubisoft’s upcoming title Assassin’s Creed: Unity is set during the French Revolution, Assassin’s Creed III was set during the American Revolution and the tie-in comic “Assassin’s Creed: The Fall” was set partially during the Russian Revolution. The series’ sci-fi mythos is rooted in a single act of extreme rebellion, and two of the games were set in Italy during the Renaissance: a time of literary, artistic and scientific revolution.
The franchise definitely has an ongoing theme, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the fires of revolution burning in the movie as well.
Assassin’s Creed is set for release on August 7, 2015.