If 2016 showed us anything, it’s that video game films still have trouble connecting with audiences and critics. Warcraft, Ratchet & Clank, and Assassin’s Creed all struggled at the box office, despite ardent fan followings, while the wild success of The Angry Birds Movie was likely due to its kid appeal. That doesn’t mean studios aren’t still pushing game adaptations forward, though, with a new Tomb Raider around the corner and a Five Nights at Freddy’s adaptation in the works.
It’s possible that a console video game adaptation hasn’t really seen financial success recently because it’s been difficult for studios to produce a film based on a game with a concrete story that appeals to adults and kids alike. While the Assassin’s Creed universe, for instance, is incredibly rich, its dark and violent undertones alienate family audiences. J.J. Abrams could produce an answer to this problem with his planned Half-Life and Portal movie adaptations, then, as at least the latter title peppers its otherwise playful universe with some dark humor. The only issue that remains is whether those films, which have been in development since 2013, will ever get off the ground. According to recent news, though, it does look like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.
In a Reddit AMA, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell revealed that both films are still on their way. When asked about the status the proposed film, the at-times curt developer simply said, “Yep. They’re coming.”
Some film projects take eons to make it to the theater, no matter how good their premises are, and so far Portal and Half-Life are prime examples. Though Abrams is a big name in mainstream sci-fi right now, especially after directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, studios still have to stick their necks out for video game adaptations. Doubly so for these Valve titles, as they’re somewhat less prominent in popular culture and occasionally disturbing. Still, the games’ cult statuses could be key to making Portal and Half-Life movies worth the risk.
Anyone who’s played either or both of these games knows that they take place in a very rich universe, rife with cinematic possibility. Though both franchises make scant use of cutscenes, their stories are satisfying and entertaining nonetheless. An unending stream of fan support for a movie adaptation is one thing, though; at the end of the day, this project just might never get the financing it needs — and these movies will need some serious financing for their requisite special effects. Hopefully this news is enough to keep hope alive in the hearts of Valve gamers everywhere. After all, waiting is the hardest part.
Screen Rant will have more information on the Portal and Half-Life movies as details are made available.