If the stigma associated with video game movies is indicative of anything, it’s that it’s not all that easy to take something that worked in an FPS or survival horror game and translate it onto the big screen. Of the many games out there that could potentially be turned into movies, however, Assassin’s Creed is one franchise that seems like it might acquiesce well to adaptation, with its story-driven gameplay and sweeping historical landscapes.
Apparently Ubisoft thought the same thing, as the new film production branch of the video game company, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, will launch its roster of video game movies with an adaptation of Assassin’s Creed, produced by and starring Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class). This project has been in the works for a while, but has gained a lot of traction and already has a scheduled release date for summer 2015.
There was already a script for Assassin’s Creed in existence, written by Michael Lesslie, but it seems that a few revisions are in order before the cameras start rolling. Speaking in an interview with Creative Screenwriting about his work on The Wolverine, Scott Frank revealed that Assassin’s Creed is his latest major project:
“I’m rewriting Assassin’s Creed right now, and what I love about it is that I’ve never adapted a video game before and it has its own set of challenges. Especially in the world of rewrites, I love trying to do something completely different if I can.”
Frank is no stranger to adaptation, having co-written the script for Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film version of the Philip K. Dick novel Minority Report. While hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans might baulk at Frank’s mention of making the film completely different to the games, it’s probably going to be necessary to shake things up a little when translating the essence of the franchise from an interactive medium to a non-interactive one, and Frank is a solid choice of screenwriter.
Assassin’s Creed is a particularly exciting project for a writer to work on, since the premise of the series allows for great scope in both locations and time periods that can be explored. The games so far have centered around a bartender called Desmond Miles who is kidnapped by a powerful corporation called Abstergo Industries (a front for the modern-day Templars) and is forced to use a machine called the Animus that taps into his genetic memories and allows him to relive the lives of his ancestors, including stoic 12th century Assassin, Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, and an Italian Renaissance playboy called Ezio Auditore.
Before trying to guess at which actors might end up in which roles (Kristen Bell, for example, had a fairly prominent role in the first few games), it’s worth remembering that UMP CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet has already confirmed that neither Assassin’s Creed nor any of the other upcoming Ubisoft movie adaptations will retell the stories from the video games they’re based on. Instead, Baronnet promised, “We will create a brand new story. Every time.” This means that while the Assassin’s Creed movie will likely revolve around the same rivalry between the Assassins and Templars and the use of the Animus technology, there’s no guarantee that characters from the game will appear in the movie.
Do you like the idea of Frank starting with a new story and giving the movie its own unique feel, or do you want Assassin’s Creed to be as faithful to the games as possible?
Assassin’s Creed is out in theaters on June 19, 2015.