Mortal Kombat remains one of the most iconic and lucrative video game franchises in the world after nearly 30 years in existence and over a dozen titles. The latest edition, Mortal Kombat X, was the ninth-best-selling game of 2015, according to VentureBeat. The franchise’s venture into movie adaptations, however, did not approach nearly the cultural impact that the video games had on pop culture. While 1995’s Mortal Kombat movie was a box office success and has gained something of a cult following, 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was both a critical dud and commercial flop.
Nearly 20 years after Annihilation, a Mortal Kombat reboot is finally in the works with James Wan producing. The movie was originally announced in 2011 with choreographer-turned-director Kevin Tancharoen, who directed the popular but short-lived web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy. But he dropped out of the project in 2013, leaving the production in doubt. Even though the production is ramping back up, Wan is in no rush to get the movie into theaters. He has, however, appeared to have found a new director for the reboot.
According to Variety, Australian director Simon McQuoid is in talks to helm the Mortal Kombat reboot for New Line Cinema. Greg Russo is credited with writing the most recent version of the screenplay. Though the general premise will certainly center around the deadly inter-dimensional fighting tournament, it’s unknown if the reboot will bear any similarities to Paul W.S. Anderson’s Liu Kang-driven original or Annihilation’s focus on the heroes’ battle with Shao Kahn.
Though the Mortal Kombat reboot would be McQuoid’s first foray into feature filmmaking, the report describes him as “one of the most in-demand commercials directors in the business.” He does have experience with video game franchises, based on his work on ad campaigns for PlayStation and the Halo franchise.
Though Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was such a disappoint that the franchise ended up going at least 20 years between big-screen features, the success of Mortal Kombat: Legacy proved that there is still an audience for longtime fans of the iconic video game series. And with production duties in the hands of Wan, who is best known for producing the Saw horror franchise, the biggest question is whether the Mortal Kombat reboot will finally get the bloody, unrestrained R-rated treatment it deserves.
The Mortal Kombat reboot will have to avoid the common pitfalls of video game adaptations associated with plot and character development. A more violent Mortal Kombat movie would also have to avoid reaching gratuitous levels. But for a franchise known for its over-the-top blood, guts, and fatalities, a more graphic cinematic take on Mortal Kombat would definitely be refreshing and excite fans who were turned off by the cheesy, restrained first two movies. With Wan producing, the production is in good hands.
Mortal Kombat currently has no release date, but we will keep you updated as more news comes along.