Sony is launching PlayStation Productions, an in-house studio dedicated to bringing its games to life on film and television. Video game movies have been frequently popping up in Hollywood. Last year saw the release of Rampage and Tomb Raider. More recently, Detective Pikachu released to decent reception, becoming the highest rated video game film. Later this year, Sonic the Hedgehog will be released.
Although PlayStation Productions is a new thing for Sony, a couple of its franchises have already been adapted for the big screen. There were the two Tomb Raider films starring Angelina Jolie in the early 2000s. In 2018, the Tomb Raider reboot video game was adapted to mixed reception. In 2016, a CGI adaption of Ratchet and Clank was released. Unfortunately, it bombed at the box office and was negatively received. As for The Last of Us adaptation, there has not been a progress report since 2016, when the film was said to be at a standstill. On the flip side, the Uncharted movie appears to be moving along.
Sony has decided to launch its first production company focused on video game adaptations, called PlayStation Productions (via THR). The studio will be headed by Asad Qizilbash and SIE Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden. In an interview with THR, Layden said, "We feel that now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television to give our worlds life in another spectrum." Layden would go on to say that the studio is taking some inspiration from what Marvel has done in the cinema. In fact, Qizilbash said they talked with different figures to gain an understanding of the film industry, including Kevin Feige.
As for why Sony doesn't simply licence its many characters out, Qizilbash says it would be better for PlayStation itself to develop, "One, because we’re more familiar, but also because we know what the PlayStation community loves." Layden would go on to explain the studio's philosophy on creating video game adaptations. Instead of adapting a multi-houred playing experience into a movie, Layden says, "You take the ethos you write from there specifically for the film audience." PlayStation Productions will be working on both television and films. Layden says a property will be adapted to a medium depending on which format best suits the property.
PlayStation Productions is an unexpected surprise. For years, the norm was to license out properties to film studios. Even Nintendo, who is very protective of its franchises, is working with Illumination on the Super Mario movie instead of developing the film itself. PlayStation Productions paints an exciting future for video game movie adaptations.
It will be very interesting to see which properties are chosen for the big screen, or television. God of War, especially its most recent installment, would at first appear to be best suited for the cinema. But, Game of Thrones has proven that cinematic level stories and dragons can be shown on the smaller screen. Could Crash Bandicoot be turned into an all-ages animated show? If Sony is taking inspiration from Marvel, does that mean we'll see a universe of characters - perhaps Sly Cooper, Ratchet, and Jak? There are a lot of questions that will be answered as time goes on. We're not sure what this means for projects already being developed, such as the Tomb Raider sequel, The Last of Us, or the Uncharted movie. Presumably, these movies will continue outside PlayStation Productions, but time will tell.