The difficulties of translating video games to movies have been well-documented, as have the many high-profile failures in this area. Despite these difficulties, movie studios continue banking on films adapted from games, hoping they can attract fans of the original titles while appealing to non-fans by attaching big-name stars and directors to their projects. Ubisoft is making that particular plunge by adapting their popular third-person shooter The Division, about the violent aftermath of a smallpox outbreak, to the big screen.
A big key to making that leap from video game to feature film is finding the right people to write the script and direct the movie. Ubisoft thinks it has found its writer and director in the same person, a man with prior experience both working on video games and on movies.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures announces that The Division has landed Gold and Syriana director Stephen Gaghan as writer and director. Stars Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal are attached to the project. Stephen Gaghan said in a statement:
“I’m excited to work with Ubisoft Motion Pictures and collaborate with their team at Massive Entertainment to bring The Division to the big screen, they’re great guys, exceptionally creative, and willing to take risks. The game has been an enormous success, in large part due to the visual landscape they created, their vision of a mid-apocalyptic Manhattan. It’s immersive, wonderfully strange, and yet familiar, filled with possibilities. It’s also remarkable to be able to collaborate with Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal early in the process. We all feel the story Ubisoft created is more relevant than ever.”
Gaghan has prior experience in the video game realm, having worked on the storyline for 2013's Call of Duty: Ghosts. Gaghan is an accomplished writer of action movies, having written Rules of Engagement, Traffic, The Alamo and the TV movie Metro, which he also directed. Gaghan directed but was not credited with writing 2016's Gold, an adventure drama starring a bald Matthew McConaughey as a businessman journeying to the remote jungles of Indonesia in search of riches.
The Division on the surface at least sounds like one video game adaptation that actually has a chance of working. The premise about a dystopian world where smallpox has devastated the population could make for a visually interesting and action-packed movie, and there's quite a bit of big-time talent now attached to the film, between Gaghan, Gyllenhaal and Chastain.
That being said, the difficulties of adapting video games to movies still remain. Gaghan has a big job ahead of him in crafting a story that will capture the spirit of the game while still working as a narrative. As we've learned in the past, it's not enough just to make something that looks great and has a lot of action. If the story doesn't work, all the cool visuals and expertly-choreographed battle scenes in the world won't be enough.
We will let you know when The Division gets an official release date.
Source: Ubisoft Motion Pictures
- Gold (2016) release date: Dec 25, 2016