Perhaps secure in the knowledge that, eventually, they might actually run out of comic book characters, Hollywood is in a big hurry to turn video games into movies. But while big-budget features based on (comparatively) recent game creations like Assassins Creed, Splinter Cell, Halo, or Uncharted are all in some form of development across various studios, few have seemed eager to reach into the more varied backlog of classic properties from the medium’s arcade Golden Age. One exception, though, is New Line, which has signed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to headline an adaptation of Midway’s classic 1986 kaiju send-up Rampage.
Now, Johnson has named the writers for the film and confirmed a summer 2016 start date for the production — which is already set to be directed by San Andreas‘ Brad Peyton.
The film’s screenplay (confirmed by Johnson via Instagram) is being penned by Carlton Cuse (who also co-wrote San Andreas) and Ryan Condal, of the cable series Colony. In the Instagram post, Johnson goes on to praise the Rampage production team and reveal he will be researching his (unspecified) leading role as a hero by spending time at the San Diego Wildlife Preserve and anti-poaching units in Africa. Presumably Johnson will do this by familiarizing himself with normal-sized versions of the giant-scale animals that will “destroy major cities and landmarks across the US” in the film — specifically a wolf, silverback gorilla, and an alligator.
While the story of the film has not yet been revealed, this information does appear to give some indication as to how it may differ from the game. In the original arcade version of Rampage, players controlled one of three giant monsters “inspired” by movie counterparts: George (King Kong), Lizzie (Godzilla), and Ralph (a giant Wolf-Man) on a mission to level cities across the United States. However, rather than being mutated animals, the trio were depicted as being humans who had been transformed by experiments at ScumLabs. What’s not immediately clear is whether this means the monsters in the film will start out human like in the game, or just larger versions of otherwise normal animals throughout.
The project has been in development since 2011, when New Line first acquired the rights. While earlier films based on classic video games like Super Mario Bros. and Adam Sandler’s Pixels have been box-office failures, Disney found success with the arcade-inspired hit Wreck-It Ralph. It’s been a full decade since the most recent game in the series, Rampage: Total Destruction, was released for the Nintendo Wii, so it’s likely that Johnson and the outlandish premise will be the main selling point rather than the source material. Success will likely be dependent on tone as well: The recent reboot of Godzilla was criticized by many for not delivering enough of the “fun” associated with giant monster movies like those that inspired Rampage. If the film can successfully embrace a more rollicking tone, it may lead to box-office success.
Johnson will next be seen in the Kevin Hart team-up Central Intelligence, with the reboot of Baywatch and Fast 8 set to follow. No additional casting for Rampage has been announced yet, though it may be worth noting that later sequels to the original game dramatically increased the number of playable monster characters.
We’ll let you know when Rampage gets an official theatrical release date.
Source: Dwayne Johnson