Avi Arad, ex-CEO of Marvel studios, has optioned the movie rights to the 2007 hit game Mass Effect. Mass Effect was developed by Bioware, creators of the super-successful Knights of the Old Republic (the best Star Wars game ever on the consoles). It is published by video game powerhouse Electronic Arts (EA) and was released exclusively on the Xbox 360 console and later the PC in 2007.
Avi Arad made it big when Marvel Comics went bankrupt in the mid-nineties. Toy Biz, which he helmed at the time, acquired the company in a sloppy mess of a merger/acquisition. He was instrumental in pulling Marvel out of bankruptcy and expanding the company into the film industry.
Arad is one of the reasons that comic book-based films are currently the hottest thing in the industry with every comic property now being bought up by studios left, right and center... including comics that haven't even hit the shelves yet.
In 2006, Arad resigned his position as CEO of Marvel studios to form his own company, Avi Arad Productions. He still acts as executive producer on all Marvel films and television projects.
With his own company, it appears that he is now targeting video game adaptations with this Mass Effect project as well as a film based on the Lost Planet video game, which was confirmed this summer.
Mr. Arad and EA are remaining tight-lipped on details of where they are in pre-production but it's a good bet that they will try to tie in the hype of this film to the release of the second or third installment of planned trilogy of games.
I won't go into too much detail about the game (that's not what this site is about), but if you're a gamer and haven't played this, you best go out and acquire this game. It's one of the best titles on the Xbox 360. I would even go so far as to say, this game is better than Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) - It doesn't beat the epic story of KOTOR, but its gameplay elements bring it a step above.
Mass Effect, just like KOTOR, features an incredible voice cast (including my favourite Seth Green), leading edge graphics, and a very cinematic presentation style. I believe this game would be amazing as a feature film, but just like all video game adaptations, I am very worried about how they can capture all the important story elements in a 2 hour feature film.
I'll throw out one casting option I think would work. You can customize the character in the game, but the default skin and the one we see on the game box looks just like Matthew Fox. That character's name just so happens to be Commander Shepard. Who does Fox play on Lost? Jack Shephard! Same name, minus the "h"! It's a match made in heaven.
So, what do you think? Does the game's story warrant a big-screen feature? Can they pull it off in one movie? Any casting ideas?