The Gears of War movie has been in-development, in some form or another, for well over a decade and yet it's still not happening. But if and when it does at Universal Pictures, we know a little bit of what to expect from what the developers at The Coalition - the Xbox Games Studio in charge of the property.
We visited The Coalition last week in Vancouver, British Columbia to get hands-on with Gears 5's grandiose story campaign and while there I saw down with studio head and Creative Director Rod Fergusson. We had spoken over the years occasionally about the Gears of War adaptation, but now, with the IP expanding more than ever with a comic series, novels, and a pair of spinoff games, it feels like we're closer than ever to Hollywood greenlighting production on a Gears of War feature.
Fergusson, to his credit, seems to get it and understands that movies cannot strictly follow the source material of a lengthy game. It needs to fit a new medium and appeal to an exponentially larger audience than the game player base to succeed.
I have talked to Dave Bautista three times personally about his insane desire of making a Gears movie. And other actors and producers are Gears fans too. If they can finally make that adaptation happen, what would you like to see? Because you’re a fan of this material, as well. Would you like to see an adaptation that does its own thing, or do you want to see it based on the OG game and strictly following your story?
Rod Fergusson: Yeah, I mean, we talked about this a lot. Between us, me and the producers and the studio at Universal. Basically, I wanted to make it really simple for them to be creative in that space. Much like when I work with the book author or the comic book author, I try to find some pocket of negative space where they could play and not feel obliged. [Not] like they're going to redefine my lore, or that I'm going to overly constrict them. What I told the told Universal and Dylan Clark Productions was, “Make a great movie first, and make a Gears movie second.”
As long as you make a great movie, we can always Gears-ify it. I would rather it be known as a great movie that is Gears-based than a Gears movie that isn't so good. It's an alternate reality – not that I'm saying it's different characters, different worlds, different anything. I just mean an alternate reality in that they don't feel beholden to the game story. So, if you need Maria to live in your movie, I'm okay with that. If Dom needs to live for the movie, I'm okay with that.
Because at the end of the day, if you sell movie tickets to just Gears of War fans, that's not sufficient. It has to be a great movie first and appeal to everyone, so that's what I'm really pushing them on. “Hey, don't worry so much about, like, what is the right number of teeth on the Lancer chainsaw?” I'm more worried about, you know, how do I have great relationships with characters and dramatic tension and just a kick ass story.
In 2009 we wrote about an update on the status of the Gears of War film at that time, when screenwriter Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious franchise) was attached to it and admitting he knew nothing about it, or video games, but dug its art. Perhaps we should be thankful it didn't happen with him back then because it would have been terrible.
Now, however, as we approach the release of Gears 5 the industry has grown and shifted substantially. Video game adaptations have some hope now thanks to some successful and quality adaptations on Netflix. We've still yet to see a big budget live-action film hit the mark, but Gears of War could be a unique one to try.
Gears 5 releases September 10, 2019 for PC and Xbox One. Gears 5 Ultimate Edition releases early on September 6th.