Videogame Film Adaptations

18 Nov

Two well-known actors Collin Ferrell (“Minority Report”, “Fright Night”, and “Total Recall”) and Michael Fassbinder (“A Dangerous Method,” “Shame”, and “Twenty Years a Slave”) recently announced their intentions to appear in two currently popular videogame inspired movies or adaptations.  Collin Ferrell will star in “World of Warcraft.” Michael Fassbinder will star in “Assassin’s Creed”.  Other films in development starring other leading actors include: “Splinter Cell (TBC)” starring Tom Hardy, The Need for Speed, starring Jason Aaron, etc. [1]

World of Warcraft

Assassin’s Creed

Not deriving from literature, many Cinephiles and pop culture enthusiasts might naturally evaluate this genre with some suspicion.

Because the source material doesn’t come from artistically prestigious sources, critical viewers may equate this material with a kind of schlock.

  •  Appearing to be an opportunistic attempt to take advantage of familiar entertainment content, this kind of movie might appear to be an advertiser or marketer’s fantasy.
  •  After crafting so few Oscar worthy films, many may feel this action-adventure media has very little artistic or intellectual promise.

With more than twenty years of commitment to these films, Hollywood keeps making these features for many reasons. It may be surprising that some reasons may contradict what may appear to be solely commercial motivations.  First we will review the movies, then discuss the games, and then conclude with a prediction of how well these movies are likely to fare.


Here’s a list of popular game titles that were adapted into feature films.

  • Super Mario Bros. (1993)
  • Double (Dragon (1994)
  • Street Fighter (1994)
  • Mortal combat (1995)
  • Wing Commander (1999)
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
  • Final Fantasy (2001)
  • Resident Evil (2002)
  • House of the Dead (2003)
  • Alone in the Dark (2005)
  • Doom (2005)
  • BloodRayne (2005)
  • Silent Hill (2006)
  • DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
  • Postal (2007)
  • Hitman (2007)
  • Far Cry (2008)
  • Max Payne (2008)
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) [2]

The number of titles might be surprising, yet one might recognize the content tends to trend in only a few directions: crime stories, war, martial arts, horror, fantasy, or sci-fi.  Maybe influenced from but not directly inspired by; dramas do not provoke video game development. Many video games focusing on crime or law enforcement content may be influenced by the  “the Godfather, “ but by the articles surveyed, films like “Kramer vs. Kramer”, “Ordinary People” and “Social Network”, have yet to inspire video game production.  Possibly advantageous, given the right director, these “oversights” might provide openings for future video game development.

For those reasons we may have to wait to see if any of these films will ever be nominated for Oscars other than in design, production or development categories.  Though a limited participatory recognition could dissuade actors, directors, and some studios these factors have not been proven fatal for these films yet.

One might assume that the only demographic that would respond to these films is young boys, yet the central characters of the “Tomb Raider” film franchise, and the “Resident Evil” film franchises were both women.  This doesn’t necessarily guarantee a female audience; yet it might be hard to say women’s interest and participation isn’t sought after.


Like any participatory game, activated by a provocative premise, video game play provokes and produces narratives. Clear protagonists, antagonists, and high stakes scenarios have to be part of the recipe if the game has any chance of attracting fans and multiple game playing sessions.  However obsessive repetition, word of mouth, and eventually overall popularity predicts the likelihood of the game gaining feature film development advocates.

Amassing more than positive reviews at the times of it initial releases PC Gamer, IGN and USA Today wrote positive reviews of Activision’s “World of Warcraft.” The game is supposed to be the top selling video of all time.

Unanimously successful, all iterations of Ubisoft’s “Assassins Creed” have been big sellers in the games market.  With growing “box office” in the multi-millions referring to first week sales, Creed remains a huge seller among game fans.


This is the most difficult assessment to make because movie audiences are not always predictable.  The two film franchises mentioned earlier starring leading women have been the most success regarding sequels as well.  Could the absence of a female lead prove to be prohibitive?

Charismatically compelling on screen, Collin Ferrell’s box office record might not be very persuasive when predicting this film’s success.  Yet his collaborator in this endeavor, “Moon” director Duncan Jones, provides more of the critical reliability that Ferrell’s film choices may not exhibit.  Relying on the director’s passion, Ferrell doesn’t pretend to understand the appeal of the game nor what makes the content exceptional.

“I don’t know where they are in the process.” Farrell went on to say that he’s not a World of Warcraft player or even familiar with the video game property, he’s simply a fan of Jones’ work.” [3]

Provoking risk-taking evaluations, by assuming roles in already established franchises (X-men: First Class, Prometheus) Fassbinder might provoke greater faith in his acting selections.  In terms of screen writing, “most recently at the hands of Oscar nominee Scott Frank,”[4] the character seems to still an unknown to non-game players.  Admitting he never played the game, Fassbender claims his interests in the film derive from the opportunity to mine personal experiences.

 “…they told me the story behind it, and I thought it was very interesting—the idea of reliving memories.” [5]

Regardless of how these creative endeavors turn out, its curious that audiences may still think this is a young genre.  Clearly it isn’t, yet I think misunderstandings about the content, and the questionable viability of film adaption provokes audience unease about feature film reinventions or resurrections.


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47 Responses to “Videogame Film Adaptations”

  1. littlebells November 18, 2013 at 8:55 PM #

    Fantastic and very informative article CR!

    I may end up posting questions/comments earlier than the discussion as my kids are involved in activities between 4 and 6. I hope you are well! 🙂

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:15 PM #


      Thank you very much.

  2. littlebells November 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM #

    I will admit, I really haven’t seen any of the films listed. They have no appeal to me. I agree that it is most young men who are attracted to these films and gamers. I feel like Hollywood is so desperate for material

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:26 PM #


      It’s not your fault. The reason you have not seen any of these films is most of them were not very good. One of the most successful franchises from this genre; I still do not understand why women don’t flock to see “Resident Evil” l movies. Does anyone have any ideas?

      • ozzie20 November 21, 2013 at 9:43 PM #

        Not sure of that myself! My mum and I have never seen any of the Resident Evil films at the cinema. We keep meaning to but never actually get round to it. We have all the DVDs though! 🙂

        • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM #

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.I guess that’s pretty fantastic (I didn’t realize you we such an action adventure fan). Someone keeps them producing those sequels. I didn’t realize you had that kind of taste for violence.

          Actually I’m really am laughing WITH you, (not at you). Other than OB (don’t let the book thing fool you) and LB’s fascination with violent horror gore I rarely hear women appreciation for this kind of thing.

          You made my day 🙂

          • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:15 PM #

            “Other than OB (don’t let the book thing fool you)”

            CR- Are u saying I’m a closet Sci-Fi Geek? And LB is a Horror fanatic? Just what are u getting at? Hmmm! 🙂

            • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:24 PM #

              Hey, if the space boots fit; I think you should wear them.


              • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM #

                Ok! Those are pretty cool and I would wear them. But that doesn’t prove anything!

                • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:38 PM #

                  You can run but you can’t hide.

                  • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:49 PM #

                    U have also called me a Hippie. How can I be both? I think its better not to try and peg me otherwise u will go insane. 🙂

        • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:18 PM #


          That’s great. I think I’ve seen only bits and pieces of a “Resident Evil” film. I don’t know why I’ve never gotten into them. Maybe I will have to see one given your regard for them. I did love “The 5th Element” though.

  3. littlebells November 19, 2013 at 7:12 PM #


    How do you think these films should be marketed to maximize demographics? How would they get the attention of women, in particular, who are not into these games or know anything about them? I would assume casting the Ferrell and Fassbender would be part of the strategy

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:28 PM #

      Good question. I would think you were right yet this strategy does appear to have worked in the past.

      • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM #

        SORRY. “….this strategy does NOT appear to have worked in the past.”

        As much as I can tell, Milla Jovovich is the queen of this genre. I’m not sure a male actor can match that.

        The current wisdom is women are not as addicted to the media as men of the same age. But LB maybe you’re right. Maybe they haven’t had the right actor to motivate or focus them or spur their imaginations.

  4. ozzie20 November 19, 2013 at 7:55 PM #

    I like this topic alot! I LOVE the Resident Evil franchise. I love Milla Jovovich. I can’t get enough of the combination, lol! I’m sure I’ve just read somewhere they’re making another one. Yay!

    Got a migraine at the moment but I will be back as soon as it’s eased up. 🙂

    • littlebells November 19, 2013 at 8:44 PM #

      Oh Ozzie! I’m glad you love this! What is it about this genre/style that you love so much?

      • Open Book November 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM #

        I like vintage video games. Like Pac-Man 🙂 Oh! Yeah I love Sodoku too. Does that count as a video game?

        • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:31 PM #


          • ozzie20 November 21, 2013 at 9:24 PM #

            Hey everyone! Still got a migraine, grrr. So please excuse any “not making sense” posts, lol!

            I’m not entirely sure why I love them so much. It’s probably many reasons.! I’m not sure how I got hooked on them because being squeamish I stay away from gory films! I vaguely remember playing the game with a friend when I went I was younger. I was never any good and usually died in the first 5 minutes! Although the story was different from the game at least I’d get to the end of it, lol! So nostalgia played a part. I’d already seen Milla in The Fifth Element and loved her in that. Also I liked that the lead was female and just as good as the men! My Mum loves them too so bond over them, lol! I’m sure there were other reason but at the moment those are the only ones that came to mind.

            Out of the list above I’ve seen Hitman (loved it, I think I read somewhere another is going to be made but with a different lead. I don’t really like when another actor takes over a role unless it’s a reboot (like Spider Man or Bat Man), so I can’t say I’ll love it before it comes out like I do with Resident Evil. It’s a wait and see for now. Never played it either.), Laura Croft (liked it and played it again dying within the first 5 minutes.), and Max Payne (I liked that too but never played it). I’ve played Doom and Prince of Persia and would like to see those movies but I’ve never got round to it.

            So looking at that list I like this genre mostly for nostalgic reasons. Even if I never played the game, I’m sure I’ll have watched my friends or cousins play on them at one time or another.

            • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM #

              I think we’ve all been there.

    • Open Book November 21, 2013 at 1:54 PM #


      Do u play video games?

      • ozzie20 November 21, 2013 at 9:26 PM #

        I bought a Resident Evil game a couple of years ago but haven’t played it often because I die too quickly on it, lol! I play a few others from time to time when I’m bored but they haven’t been made into movies.

        • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM #

          Ozzie-I bet u could beat me. I would probably last 1 minute. Hahaha!

          • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 2:09 PM #

            Again don’t let her fool you, she’s addicted to competition.

            • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 2:13 PM #

              Goodness! I know where u live. Hahahaha! Ozzie, ignore him. I just like to challenge myself. Is that such a crime?

              • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 2:28 PM #

                She should make the mistake of underestimating you then let her decide whether any laws were broken.

                Don’t forget Ozzie; I tried to warn you.

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM #

      Looks like I spoke way too fast. Ozzie, what is it abour her films you like so much?

      • ozzie20 November 21, 2013 at 9:35 PM #

        I don’t think so! I know for definite that my Mum and I like them, maybe my cousin too. So that’s 2, maybe 3 women who liked the genre out of everyone I know! Why do we like them, I don’t know. I only know my own reason. Maybe it’s because we’re a matriarchal family, so films where women kick butt appeals to that side of us, lol!

        • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM #

          Mature women like this too,…. wonders never cease.

  5. Open Book November 21, 2013 at 1:51 PM #

    CR- Great, great article.

    Do u play video games? Do u think u have to play videogames to appreciate and stay authentic to produce a film based on one?

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:31 PM #

      Thanks OB.

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM #

      I think asince of the agame play adventure should be in the film.

    • comicrelief2 November 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM #

      I’m likely to renew my game playing very soon.

      • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM #


        Given how classic Pac-Man is. I’m surprised HW never made it into a film. Do u know if there has ever been a Pac-Man film?

        • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

          You asked for it, enjoy!

          • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM #

            Oh! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was just kidding. Wait! This is a fan made movie!

            • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM #

              It was also a fan made request.

              • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 2:08 PM #


  6. Open Book November 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM #


    I find the reason these video game films still make the female characters appealing to men. I’ve spoken about Lora Croft’s costume before. Nothing about her costume is practical its all geared toward marginalizing her mind. Also, look at the Resident Evil female character’s costume? It’s totally impractical she has no protection but she looks sexy. I guess that’s more important than getting killed. Perhaps, this is why women aren’t lining up to see films based on video games?

    • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM #


      You’re such a sweet person; I have another article waiting to post. I really think it would be better to discuss costumes with that article.

      • Open Book November 22, 2013 at 2:16 PM #

        OK! 🙂

        • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM #

          I still have fond memories of the time you laughed at how ridiculous you thought the cartoon version of Storm’s (X-Men) costume looked because it had no seams and appeared to have been painted on.

          Ahhh,…… the warm memories. 🙂

  7. Open Book November 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM #

    CR- I’m going to go. It was nice chatting with all of u. Great article and topic. I can’t wait to read your next article. Will your next article be a follow up to this one?

    • comicrelief2 November 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM #

      It’s not a part two. It should satisfy the effective people who rarely appear in the spotlight series.


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