Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed and Blizzard’s Warcraft – both of which are scheduled to open in theaters this year – are widely regarded as beings movies with the potential to kick off a new era in the world of video game film adaptations. Both projects are big-budgeted take on popular gaming IPs helmed by acclaimed filmmakers, in director Justin Kurzel (Macbeth (2015)) and Duncan Jones (Source Code) respectively), and made in close cooperation with the companies that created the original video game titles, similar to how Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment produce most of their superhero comic book adaptations now.
Assassin’s Creed, in particular, is important to Ubisoft; not only because it’s based on one of the company’s most popular modern video game franchises, but also because it will serve as the launchpad for future movies released by Ubisoft Motion Pictures the way that Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. It was previously reported that work on an Assassin’s Creed film sequel has already begun (in anticipation of the film doing well at the box office), but now the project’s co-financier Catchplay has confirmed plans for both Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell movie sequels.
Splinter Cell, for those who need a refresher, is based on the best-selling Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell franchise, a series of stealth video games that began in 2002 and revolves around the highly-efficient black ops agent Sam Fisher. Tom Hardy remains attached to play Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell film adaptation, though last we had heard the script was undergoing a rewrite following the departure of director Doug Liman. Variety reports Liman as still being attached to direct Splinter Cell with a 2017 theatrical release date in mind, but that may not be plausible – what with Liman now set to direct the X-Men spinoff Gambit for (in all likelihood) a Fall 2017 release date and Hardy preparing to start working on Christopher Nolan’s WWII movie Dunkirk for its Summer 2017 release.
Catchplay CEO Daphne Yang confirmed plans for both Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell movie sequels to Variety as Catchplay launched a new pan-Asian streaming video service, saying “They are both adaptations of successful Ubisoft games and would make ideal sequels.” New Regency and Catchplay currently have a three film deal that includes both the upcoming Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell as well as the Oscar-winning The Revenant (which costarred Hardy), and it appears the plan is to move forward with Splinter Cell sooner rather than later. Hardy, after he finishes his work on Dunkirk, is contracted to appear in future sequels to George Miller’s Oscar-winning hit Mad Max: Fury Road, though with there being no clear time-table for production on future Mad Max films it stands to reason that Hardy will play Sam Fisher before reprising as Max Rockatansky.
As for Assasin’s Creed: rumor has it the first major marketing push for the video game adaptation may take advantage of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s theatrical release, based on clues from Ubisoft’s viral marketing campaign for the film. While there won’t be a new Assassin’s Creed video game released in 2016, a new game will reportedly be released in early 2017 – shortly after the Michael Fassbender-headlined movie adaptation hits theaters this December. Kurzel’s Assasin’s Creed, which also costars Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises), Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire), and Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons (who’s also costarring in Batman V Superman), will have Lucasfilm’s first Stars Wars spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, to face as its primary competition at the box office.
It’s for related reason that Assassin’s Creed is generally considered one of the “riskier” tentpoles that’s arriving in 2016, seeing as its success (or lack thereof) may impact Ubisoft’s plans for not only Splinter Cell, but other gaming IPs that Ubisoft has an eye on bringing to the big screen in the foreseeable future (see, for example, Ghost Recon). The video game film code has proven to be a tricky one to crack thus far, if only for the obvious reason that a video game’s main appeal lies with its interactive nature and that playability has yet to translate easily into cinema. Nevertheless, Ubisoft isn’t the only studio having a go at getting a video game movie renaissance off the ground, with with movies like Five Nights at Freddy’s, Uncharted, and a Tomb Raider reboot in active development elsewhere.
Assassin’s Creed opens in U.S. theaters on December 21st, 2016. We’ll bring you more information on Splinter Cell as it becomes available.