More Video Games Being Made Into Movies

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 7:34 am,

world of warcraft call of duty box art More Video Games Being Made Into Movies

Legendary Pictures, the studio that co-produced The Dark Knight and 300, bought the movie rights to Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, the world’s leading MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), almost 3 years ago and it has been rumored ever since that they are bringing it to the silver screen.

Call of Duty, a first person shooter also by Activision, is now also rumored to see action on the big screen as well. The only information to come from the studio and game maker regarding this and the World of Warcraft films is pure speculation, but it would seem that Hollywood is dead set on getting a video game movie right, by evidence of the two-dozen or so live-action films in the genre they shoved out the door in the past 20 years.

Is it even possible for them to get the formula right just once?

Yesterday, Screen Rant writer Ross Miller talked about Wheelman with Vin Diesel, and asked the question: “Can Hollywood make a GOOD video game adaptation?” So far the answer has been a resounding “no”. The comments from that post are full of people that liked certain films and hated others but there has not been a clear front runner in the video-game movie market. The best anyone has done is merely “OK”. Personally, I don’t think it’s a problem with which studios, actors, directors or even writers are involved in the process. I think it has more to do with which stories they are choosing to tell and if they even need to be told in a movie adaptation.

Three things for studios to consider when developing a game-to-film are story, characters and SFX.

1. Story

The stories from these games usually aren’t very original. First person shooters are always killing aliens, zombies, demons or other people, and most of the MMORPG games don’t have any main story arc that can be easily recognized by everyone in the game’s universe. If you don’t have a good story to start with then you shouldn’t try and make one up just to use the title of the game to help sell tickets.

Some games just can’t be made into a movie and I’m not sure if there are any games that easily adapt themselves to film. If the writers take liberties with the story, then rabid fans will jump on it like a lion on a wounded wildebeest. Besides, no matter how much detail a writer puts into the script, it will not be enough and I feel bad for the guy that has to put pen-to-paper for World of Warcraft. There will be die-hard fans that will despise and loath it just because there wasn’t enough screen time for their favorite class or race. Others will point out how the armor doesn’t look a certain way and weapons do not have certain abilities or monsters are too poorly portrayed, etc.

Call of Duty is in the same boat when it comes to plot and I don’t know how it can stand out from other movies like Saving Private Ryan or any other WWII flick. Screen Rant writer Rob Keyes pointed out that its uniqueness would extend from focusing on multiple mostly-separate plot threads from the different armies and their perspectives in the game (i.e. Britain, Russian and American) but how would that make it stand out from any other WWII movie? As it is, Call of Duty is loosely based on Saving Private Ryan and I can’t help but think that it would look like a movie, based on a game, based on movie.

2. Characters

Most MMORPG’s do not have any recognizable main characters to associate with the franchise, except maybe WoW with the Lich King but that’s a stretch. First person shooters like Call of Duty have the same problem. With no main character, the audience will have no reason to care about the film or what happens to the people in it. It’s not enough to simply create characters that all of the sudden exist in this world just for the movie’s sake. They must have existed there before like Max Payne or Lara Croft. Creating believable and realistic characters from a game like this is all but impossible.

3. SFX

Just about every SFX possible for a video game has already been done in a movie and I can’t imagine anything new that can be offered. Doom had the first person shooter scene, Max Payne attempted a a terrible bullet time moment and Tomb Raider gave us digitally enhanced breasts (seriously, read about it here). There is nothing else that can be added to either a WWII film or a fantasy/action flick that we haven’t seen before.

As an example, WoW is already behind the curve depicting the Taurens since Chronicles of Narnia showed us the Minotaurs three years ago. If WoW had come out first, then people would say Narnia copied WoW but now it is going to be the other way around. In a genre like this you have to be cutting edge and bring something new to the table and studios are quickly running out of time before we, the audience, have seen it all.

However, with all the spoof movies that have inundated the theaters over the past few years, I’m surprised the Wayans Brothers, who will release Dance Flick this summer, or the writers of Superhero Movie haven’t jumped on this potential gold mine with a “Video Game Movie”, and if they read this and one comes out, I want royalties.

We always discuss what games they have screwed up and what games they haven’t but let’s talk about what games SHOULD be done as blockbuster movies and why. I vote Kid Icarus and Metroid.

What do you think?

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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  1. Um, isn’t Call of Duty already on the big screen? It is called Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and all of the freakin WWII movies and shows we already have seen…

    Let me guess, it’ll be about the European front against the Nazi’s, just like 99.9% of every WWII themed movie or game. It is like Hollywood and the game industry thinks that the Japanese were not even in the fight, despite the fact that USA was probably MORE involved in the Pacific front than the European front, you will never know that from watching WWII movies or playing WWII games.

    I guess them murdering 10 million civilians in various Asian countries doesn’t make them evil enough…

    And WoW… no comment, why people pay money every month for a single game boggles my mind. And it’s not even such a great game. Oh yes, I want to run around as a freakin goblin or whatever in cartoony armor with big shoulder pads… And it’ll ONLY cost me $180 a year! Woot!! *rolls eyes*

    Can’t wait for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, and ArmA II, those games are going to rock…

  2. Mass Effect has a great chance because the game it’s self in my opinion is the single greatest story to ever be told in a Video Game. It’s a great sci fi story with loads of depth. The characters all feel real and the Alien races are fully relized and have their own unique traits. As far as story goes RPG’s tend to have the best though not always. I think God Of War could be great as well though I really have never seen a good choice to play Kratos it’s a very hard role to cast. Assassins Creed could be cool if they made the film make more sense than the Video Game.

  3. I can understand WoW a bit, (never played any Warcraft games) But Warcraft has a story, right?
    I cannot believe Call of Duty, it’s just another WWII scene like all those other movies Ken J said

    I can understand Max Payne, Lara Croft, Bioshock, those stand out

  4. Bioshock should be interesting…

  5. Duke nukem movie, now that Duke Nukem Forever has been finally cancelled.

  6. Bruce Willis as Duke? lol

  7. You’ve focused mainly on first person shooters and MMORPG’s. Granted, you led in the article talking about World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, two games which in a lot of ways would be difficult to turn into a movie (in fact, both of which has me asking the question…”why?” as per Ken J’s comment).

    But think of Prince of Persia. Now, I’m not considering that this is going to be a good movie, it has just as much chance of being bad, but then I guess I’ll have to wait on that one. But the fact is, the Sands of Time series has a very decent story and as long as they chuck in some parkour and decent sword play, people will be happy. Basically what I’m saying is, platform or adventure games tend to focus quite a bit on story as a driving force of the game and a film should be able to provide a decent narrative to that story.

    I honestly thought Hitman was going to be a decent movie, but that movie was confusing on many levels. First of all, I couldn’t actually fathom much of the plot. Secondly, the game actually had a decent storyline and they changed that into what was essentially a political thriller with a bald headed assassin. Olyphont was good, but not suited to the role and really, they took a simple and yet semi-original concept and ruined it.

    I really don’t understand why film makers find it so hard to make a game into a movie. I know people complain that “oh, they’re too different, and games don’t have good stories and blah blah blah” but at the end of the day, a good screenwriter should be able to take as little as a concept, which is essentially what a games plot is, and turn that into a really good movie. Screenwriters have been doing that for years and yet there is not one good video game movie. It’s sad really.

  8. I didn’t think Hitman had a very good story as a game. I also wouldn’t consider the game a Political thriller.

  9. No, I said the movie turned it into a political thriller. But the game, I thought the concept of clones built as assassins was a semi-interesting concept and much better than what they did in the film.

  10. why the hell has capcom not run the advertising/ploy collossus that is mega man.. This movie would be incredibly easy to make and make a ginormus profit.. id like to see an origins story closley similar to the first spiderman with real people acting, no cartoon/animated bull.. and with the right cgi effects in the right places this could be awesome for adults to view as well.. megaman after all in the original swing of things was an android forced to become a savior battle driod thrown out to fight against multiple foes pretty much by himself, cept for the sweet adaptations of the dog armor and zero… this would allow for more than one movie easy

  11. OH and to my point above … THEY JUST DID IRON MAN which is pretty much the same thing..

  12. Hey gang, don’t know if you noticed but the writer of this piece is a new addition to the Screen Rant crew… his name is Paul and you may know him better as regular SR commenter “walwus.” Please welcome him to our team! :-)


  13. @KenJ – You reiterate my point nicely, thank you. I played WoW for 3 years starting with the day it went live. Don’t knock the shoulder pads until you try them  WoW and games like it are more of a social networking site at this point than a game. Sure you get to do quests and stuff and you can do them solo but it works much better if you are in a group and groups are easier to find if you are in a guild and guilds are easier to join if you have friends in the me. You get my point.

    @DanielF – Assassins Creed could make an interesting movie but you are asking Hollywood to make the movie more interesting and more understandable than the game. Shoot brother, they can’t even make a movie AS interesting and understandable as the game. Don’t have high hopes that they can do the opposite.

    @Joshi – I discussed WoW and CoD because those are the ones the rumored of being made into movies right now. My thoughts, however, remain the same. MMORPG’s and MMO shooters should NOT be made into movies. The “why” you are looking for in the 11.5 million subscribers that WoW has, that is half the population of Australia btw. Studios figure this is easy money because the fan base is already there. They are so wrong. Wait until they screw it up, gamers will eat them alive.

    @rich – Megaman would be fun to watch but I can’t help but think the writers would actually put the dude in a blue suit and helmet with his arm shooting little energy balls. The corny is just filling my head.

    @Vic – Thanks for the warm comment “hug” 

  14. @Paul

    Yes, from a financial standpoint, I can understand, much like how I understand crappy remakes and sequels to bad movies, it always comes down to money.

    But the thing is, while Wow has a very rich story, it’s generally been done before, much like COD. From what I’ve heard the story for Wow is fairly straightforward affair for fantasy worlds. And as Ken J said, COD is a game about WW2 and nothing else. The attraction of the game is the realism and decent gameplay, not the story.

  15. @Joshi – You may misunderstand my point. I totally agree with you. I don’t think either game should be made into a movie, and that’s what I hope Hollywood understands. Not every game needs to or can be made into a movie franchise. And vice-versa, not every movie needs to be made into a game franchise, ET for the Atari 2600 anyone?

  16. hey look Call of Duty (COD) is not just WW2. Both COD4 and the new COD6 are set in todays warfare (modern warfare).And it actually had a good story line to it. World of warcraft is nothing like Narnia and it has alot more potential than you are giving it. There is a ton of back story and “history” in WOW that they could use. Both could easily work on “The Big Screen”..

  17. Sorry, I understand now.

    That said, I do think there are some games out there that deserve a movie, only if handled right. Like I said, Prince of Persia has potential, especially with Mike Newell helming. And at the same time some games with amazing stories should stay well within the realm of game if only because the stories work well in a gaming environment.

    Also, I can’t think of any decent games that have come from movies (save for a few of the Star Wars games, but then there at 72 thousand* of those, so they were bound to get it right sooner or later). Movie tie-in game usually tend to be pretty bad.

    *this post may be subject to mass exaggeration.

  18. @travis

    Okay, so I don’t know much about COD, but even still, a game about war, story or not is a game about war. I honestly don’t see how a movie based on COD, the story or otherwise, would have any aspect that would allow it to stand out against other war movies.

    As for Wow, I’m aware of the massive history and story (aware of it though I don’t fully know it), but the issue is there is so much history. Granted, they could just turn it into a film franchise and plow through as much of the Warcraft history as they want, but since the people who played the games didn’t follow a singular character, there’s little to latch onto. There’s no real emotional investment.

    It’s not impossible for them to make a good wow film, or even a good COD film, they’ve just got a lot going against them right now and there are better game choices for them to go for.

  19. lol thats not doing my veiw justice friend,take a cross between iron man, transformers, and i-robot.

    id love to see this film be taken from an adult perspective with more of the martial arts action and the Occasional cgi buster. And if you recall the whole thing megaman is known for is his abilty to take the enemys weapon and unleash it back onto them.. and maybe you make it so strong hed only have like 4 or five shots a time. and if not that route the equivilent to those yellow orbs in real life would probably be bullet size and not even noticeable, with the occasional hold on to your lunch blast..

    Bottom line is that this movie could and WILL be done eventually, and itl make a LOT of money, between the kids nowadays and us who grew up with the dude. Just needs to be taken seriously while respecting all the different age groups

  20. Well, in COD4 there is plenty of central characters. To me that games story was one of the best stories I’ve ever played. Even if it was a FPS, it still was amazing. I’d like to see who they get for Cap. Price! Haha!

    Now for WoW. If you want to know about how they could make a movie from it, just get on WoW and yell in the middle of Org about it and you’ll have everyone talking about it. But me, don’t think it could happen, why? Because the story is driven by real people, so to me it would be really hard.

  21. Call of Duty could turn out to be a decent film in the right hands. Not so sure about world of war craft. I could only imagine a Leeroy Jenkins moment happening. ROFL.

  22. Only way WoW would work is if it’s done in 60 minute increments as a cartoon or some sort of animated short series. Ala the Star Wars series Clone Wars. Someone pointed it out above, there is a ton of history inside of World of Warcraft. But there in lies the problem, and Paul eluded to it as well. You have 11 million subscribers currently, and probably another 11 million that have played for some time and quit (i’m one of them). If you don’t stay completely true to a game that is played by so many people for such a long period of time, then your toast.

    The story of World of Warcraft, despite it’s history, it’s actually quite convoluted. Don’t forget they published a lot of books in the World of Warcraft setting. Not to steal someone else’s thunder but the main part of the story is You the player. When you are playing you usually don’t care that Princess Suchandsuch needs rescuing, you just know you are going to get some sweet loot and xp if you kill this dude holding this girl hostage. It’s possible this movie could be great but it has the Dungeons and Dragons movie written all over it.

    Also, to the guy posting about Mega Man, that sounds horrible. A dude in a blue suit with a gun that shoots out Pac Man Treats and then stealing Helicopter Man’s Whirly Bird Weapon that shoots out miniature tornados. I bet Uwe Boll is sitting in his lazy boy finishing the script as we speak… unless Roger Corman beats him to it.

    Call of Duty I can’t really speak about because I was really tired of WW2 games when it came out. I know that the sequels change the setting somewhat but if they are doing the original then it’s all about WW2. In which case it should be called Saving Private Ryan 2. In order for a war movie to be interesting in this current climate it has to show something very different. Inglorious Bastards is going to do that, and even though it’s a WW2 setting, it has huge profit potential (helps the director is Quentin Tarantino and the lead role is Brad Pitt).

  23. Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt, two reasons why I will not watch that movie…

  24. lol frostud, you didnt read a word i said did you.. did you even go see iron man.. what about i-robot.. and ya the yellow pac man treats sound like a cartoon- thats why you wouldnt use em like that.

    if they can make spider man/ transformers/ iron man/ all sounded out there
    and hell…

    the main character will be fully cgi working aroung REAL actors.. Thats an anime creation by the by…
    lol this can be done.. easily and it will make money

  25. The problem is that in any good video game the story is secondary to the game play. While video games can be visually unique their stories are often very derivative. At least 50% and often more of the enjoyment derived from a video game is through the game play itself which simply can’t be translated into the passive movie experience.

    While there have been plenty of action sequences that I feel would be cool to play in a video game I have never once played a video game and wanted to see the story adapted into a movie.

  26. I think Dynasty Warriors would make a pretty interesting movie, based on The Romance of The Three Kingdoms. Metal Gear Solid without a doubt, Syphon Filter, then comes the obvious Halo.

  27. vid I don’t think that’s actually accurate. There are multiple types of gamers. I consider my self a story player. I play the game to see the story unfold. I will play a game with bellow average gameplay and an amazing story over a game with amazing gameplay and a bellow average story any day. I know a lot of people like this the game play is the interactive part while the story is what keeps you watching. All my friends are this same way. Also the some of the best games in the world are praised for their story the problem is those aren’t the games that people decide to make or those are the games that are rumored to be made in to movies, but nothing ever happens. Mass Effect and God Of war have amazing stories and have both been rumored, but neither has really made any progress in the film department.

    As far as MMO’s go I don’t think there is any potential there. I’m not just hating on WoW either I was an avid MMO play for 9 years of my life I played Everquest and loved that game. There are rumors of an EQ movie as well and I’m not even remotely excited. MMO’s do not have good stories obsessed fanboys of a certain game will argue, but you can not play an MMO for the story because it isn’t the driving factor there really is no story there. MMO’s are played so losers like me can pretend they are interacting with people and have an excuse to play their game. I can openly admit it so should every other MMO player.

  28. Sorry Daniel, I missed your post. I was on a dungeon raid with 64 other people. :)

  29. I think I would be a mix of the type of gamer Daniel is and those who like gameplay mechanics. I also love a good story, but if the gameplay is crappy, I wouldn’t bare with it for the sake of the story. I like a combination of great story and great gameplay, and when I find something like that, I play through the game extremely slowly, exploring every little corner, listen to every little dialog, so those usually last me a pretty good amount of time. Best example is all of the Half Life 2 games. Not much of a fan of the original Half Life, but Half Life 2 and the episodes of HL3 (misnamed Half Life 2: Episode #) have the best combination of story, gameplay mechanics, and character development of any game that I’ve played. But it’s funny that I consider that game to have the best character development since they didn’t develop the main character AT ALL. He never spoke, he never made a move you didn’t control, so basically his character is the least developed AND most developed character in the history of video games: You, the video game player. It sounds like a simple idea, and it is, but nobody has really accomplished that before. I guess that’s what you call “ingenious.” There were rumors of a HL2 movie being considered, but as much as I would love to see it, I don’t see how they can do it since then they will have to give Gordon Freeman a voice and a character. It’ll lose that magic of the main character being you and nothing more. But I think there’s enough story and deep enough supporting characters to carry a movie I think…