In an interview with Screen Rant, director David Leitch discusses why he thinks his forthcoming adaptation of The Division can overcome the dreaded video game movie curse. Fresh off helming the superhero sequel Deadpool 2, David Leitch has been tasked with bringing Ubisoft's action role-playing game The Division to the big screen. Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal have already signed on to star, giving the movie a heavy hitting lead cast.
Of course, movie history is already littered with the corpses of big budget video game adaptations that failed to live up to lofty box office expectations. Failures of highly touted films from Super Mario Bros. to Doom to Assassin's Creed have led some to claim that all video game movies have fallen victim to a curse. Others argue that good video game movies remain possible, if Hollywood can only crack the code.
Speaking exclusively to Screen Rant, The Division director David Leitch discussed the whole video game curse notion, and gave his reasons why he thinks his movie can avoid falling into the same traps that have plagued other game adaptations:
Well, I think there is this sort of curse that everybody talks about and I think part of it, at least from my observation, is that a movie tells its own story. A video game, you tell the story, I mean, you control it and I think that those are hard things to connect. But the world of The Division asks some really complex questions that I like and the world is so expansive. I think we can find a real human narrative in there and actually add some killer action to the world building that they already have and so I'm really excited about the property and the artists that are all involved in it.
For those not familiar, The Division takes place in a near-future New York hit by a smallpox outbreak. The player takes on the role of a special agent whose job is to help contain the pandemic. The game combines role-playing and third-person action elements, as the player investigates the cause of the outbreak while also battling various enemies. As Leitch notes in his interview, the game's open world is fairly expansive, giving players a certain freedom within the outbreak narrative.
From Leitch's point-of-view as a filmmaker, that open world may be the key to breaking the so-called curse. Unlike games that tie players down to a limited number of options, open world games afford more freedom, providing a different experience each time. When it comes to dreaming up a new narrative that both satisfies gamers and appeals to audience members who lack familiarity with the original, open-world games should in theory lend themselves more readily to film adaptation, simply because they're already set up to not force the narrative in a specific direction. Leitch certainly has the action movie chops to live successfully in the movie's expansive world, having worked on John Wick and Atomic Blonde in addition to Deadpool 2.
Like any other movie, a good video game movie just needs the right combination of story and character. We'll find out if David Leitch can turn the trick when The Division makes its way to screens. In the meantime, don't forget to check out Screen Rant's full exclusive interview with Leitch, coming later this week.