The Atari remains one of the best-selling video game consoles of all time. In its heyday, the cartridge-based system played host to scores of video game classics like Pac-Man, Asteroids, Missile Command, and Centipede, and swallowed millions of quarters at arcades around the world. Some of those games, such as Pac-Man and Centipede wound up embodied in cinematic form in last year’s critically derided Adam Sandler vehicle Pixels.
Apparently, the Chris Columbus picture isn’t alone in its attempt to bring an old school video game feel to the screen. It looks like Oasis Films wants to bring two more Atari classics to the big screen.
According to Deadline, Randall Emmett and George Furla, one of the production teams behind Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Silence, have acquired the rights to Missile Command and Centipede. Unlike the aforementioned Pixels, which was an amalgamation of popular arcade games, the Atari titles come to life as separate films. Stephen Belafonte, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones, and Atari will also executive produce the film. CEO Fred Chesnais announced that Atari was:
“Thrilled to partner with Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films to develop feature films based on two of our most beloved titles. Centipede and Missile Command are part of Atari’s unparalleled and rich library of popular games and we cannot wait to see the movies come to life.”
Speaking on behalf of Oasis Films, Emmett also addressed the long-term continued nostalgia of the games, saying:
“[These] immensely popular titles have been enjoyed by generations of gamers worldwide. We look forward to a very successful partnership and to bringing Centipede and Missile Command to the big screen.”
For those unfamiliar with the games, Centipede featured a humanoid head-like shooter which fired lasers at the titular beasties as they wove through fields of floating mushrooms. All the while, spiders, fleas, and scorpions trolled the screen, trying to destroy each player. In Missile Command, players defended several cities in California by strategically bursting their ground-to-air weapons in order to annihilate an onslaught of ballistic rockets. Centipede had some serious facetime in Pixels; however, Missile Command wound up with a couple of cameos in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and there was even an attempt to develop the game into a feature film in 2010.
Admittedly, with no real plot behind these games, silver screen adaptions of Centipede and Missile Command could wind up as golden raspberries in the making. Most modern games have a rich backstory and cast of characters which better lend themselves to cinematic adaption. Despite this, the phrases ‘successful’ and ‘video game movie’ often prove oxymoronic. Creating a blockbuster film from an 8-bit shoot-em-up minus a mythology could prove a serious challenge – especially since both games are best known as nostalgia pieces these days.
On the other hand, Atari did successfully cross-develop their Cloak and Dagger video game with a film version in 1984. With a little creative backstory, Centipede could work as a monster movie or a sci-fi actioner. And Missile Command has nostalgic Cold War thriller written all over it. It will be interesting to see how Oasis and Atari choose to bring these classic ’80s games to the screen.
We’ll keep you up to date on any developments with the Centipede and Missile Command films as they occur.