We are about the enter the age of video game movies and while we’ve seen plenty of terrible adaptations over the years, Hollywood has only scratched the surface of the major video game properties available. With the growing push towards deeper stories and photo-realistic graphics and characters, let alone the growing list of Hollywood talent providing voices and likeness to video games, it’s an inevitability that video games are going the way of comic book films.
Two weeks ago, video game publisher/developer Ubisoft officially announced the formation of Ubisoft Motion Pictures with the goal of adapting their major franchise until feature films and television projects. We’ve already had an adaption of one of their IPs in last year’s Prince of Persia, courtesy of Disney, but there’s arguably even more potential with their other core video game series.
Prince of Persia, the first film based on an Ubisoft IP was a big budget film that banked over $330 worldwide at the box office but its reviews were poor and not even Disney could lift the genre out of the gutter. With Ubisoft taking the path of Marvel Studios in controlling their own brands and staying true to the source, they may just be the stalwarts Hollywood (and fans) have been waiting for to bring video game adaptations the level of quality they desperately need.
The following words from Ubisoft’s senior VP of international marketing and distribution, Jean de Rivieres, may put to rest early concerns about how faithful the films will be to the stories and characters of the games.
“Our strategy is not to diversify but to bolster the appeal of our franchises — that’s why we want to make sure our films will reflect the brands accurately and consolidate our fan base while expanding beyond the games’ primary target audience.”
Ubisoft Motion Pictures head, Jean-Julien Baronnet, explains that the studio will likely work with other studios for development and distribution.
“We want to keep ownership, retain control over the film content, and we’re open to work with studios on the development of our projects, and eventually collaborate on the pre-casting, pre-budget and script.”
For those unfamiliar with the game franchises you’ll eventually see on the silver screen, Ghost Recon follows a team of special ops soldiers, the “Ghosts,” who are essentially tasked with the most important highly classified missions. It’s based in the near future during fictional international conflicts and the soldiers have the best tech and weaponry in the world. [Click images to enlarge]
The other Tom Clancy property, Splinter Cell, involves one main protagonist unlike Ghost Recon’s team-mentality, and follows the story of Sam Fisher, a secret agent working for Third Echelon, a secret branch of the NSA. Fisher uses stealth more than weapons and his missions often involve infiltration to gather intelligence. In the later games, Fisher’s tale takes a twist and he goes undercover, eventually leaving Third Echelon as things get very personal when his daughter gets involved.
Assassin’s Creed is Ubisoft’s newest and hottest property. It’s by far the most interesting and contemporary of the three, and the most difficult to summarize. Think of it as Prince of Persia meets Lost but with an actual story and legitimate characters. It’s based in the future and follows (more or less) the story of a bartender named Desmond Miles who’s captured by a mysterious corporation and put into a machine where he relives the memories of his ancestors, Assassins, who are mixed in a worldwide conspiracy and timeless war against the Templars. The series blends historical figures and events with a very interesting and deep science-fiction aspect and would undoubtedly spawn an incredible long-standing film franchise if done right.
We can only hope that if they’re pushing scripts for each of three three properties that they think long-term and don’t try to mix stories from multiple games into one feature film. Start it proper and let the series and characters develop.
Which Ubisoft game movie are you most excited for? Where’s the love for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six?