Rockstar Exec Criticizes Cash-In Videogame Movies

Rockstar Exec Criticizes Cash-In Videogame Movies

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The decision to make a movie out of a game has to be about more than money.

Rockstar Games co-founder and VP of creativity, Dan Houser, seemingly isn't a particularly big fan of the fusion of videogames and movies. Whether it's a big screen adaptation of a successful game, or the tie-in game for a successful movie, Houser feels that too often, people are just out to make a quick buck, rather than a good product.

Houser thought that the motivation for making taking a game and making it into a movie - or vice versa - had to be more than financial. Moreover, he thought that not every property would work in a new medium, so it was important for filmmakers and developers to make sensible choices about what they were going to work on. "If [they] feel the property has something about it that is universal or could work in another medium ... then that is something worthwhile," he said.

When it came to movies based on Rockstar properties like Red Dead Redemption or the Grand Theft Auto games, Houser said that the studio had looked into a number of different deals, but so far had decided not to proceed with any of them. He said that if Rockstar made a movie, it would either be with top Hollywood talent, or else it would make it itself, so that if it was bad, the studio would know that it had "failed on [its] own terms." Unfortunately for anyone hoping to see Vice City: The Movie or something similar, Houser said that making games took too much of Rockstar's time for it to think about the silver screen just yet.

It would interesting to see how a Rockstar themed movie would work, especially when you consider how much inspiration Rockstar games draw from movies. Houser has said in the past, however, that squeezing a Rockstar game into a two hour movie just wouldn't work, so maybe if the studio does make a movie in the future, it would be less GTA IV and more Ballad of Gay Tony.

Source: THR

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Logan Westbrook:
Houser thought that the motivation for making taking a game and making it into a movie - or vice versa - had to be more than financial.

Here here!

The rest is great too. I think a lot of game movies are more interested in slapping a name on their product and putting a few superficial elements in to connect them. This completely misses the point and questions who the audience for the film is: if it's fans of the game why snub them by poorly translating the property. The alternative is the movie is being made for other people but then if these people don't care about game X why would they care about movie X?

It used to be that games based on movies were equally bad but there have been a number of successes here lately. This is largely coming from studios who aren't interested in slapping a movie name on a poorly put together product hoping for a quick buck - it comes from people trying to make a good game which is also part of the movie franchise (which often means the movie's setting is used but not it doesn't follow a specific movie exactly).

As the gaming industry comes in to its own there seem to be far fewer studios willing to license their product out for a quick buck which is very nice to see. A lot of early game movies seemed to disappoint the developers even more than the fans.

I'd like a Rockstar movie, they have amazing character writing.

Tbh Red Dead Redemption would make a fantastic film (if done well, obviously).

The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

wait i thought its the other way around. Since when has a videogame inspired movie did well?

...o wait nm

My Kingdom for Bully: The Movie. Just to see the conservative reaction on Fox: Priceless! Rockstar is always worthwhile IMHO.
Hey Rockstar has actually made some movies already apparently.

thenumberthirteen:
The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

What's wrong with THAT^? Or is it just that Scarface has, well, already been done?

thenumberthirteen:
The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

Agreed. Only thing I would add is that a good Vice City movie would just be Scarface. A bad one would just be laughable.

Not that I don't think that a good original IP could not translate into other media well, it just takes effort. Just look at KOTOR. What makes it work is the fact that it's not a tie-in game, but an original story based in the Star Wars universe. And it was made a few decades after the beloved trilogy, not as a cash-in to go along with it, allowing plenty of time to actually craft a proper game as apposed to the rushed hack jobs most tie-ins are.

HankMan:

thenumberthirteen:
The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

What's wrong with THAT^? Or is it just that Scarface has, well, already been done?

What's wrong is that it'll be an inferior clone of movies already made. It would be really hard to really capture the feel of the game (the freedom, the open possibilities) in a 2 hour film.

Saltyk:
Not that I don't think that a good original IP could not translate into other media well, it just takes effort. Just look at KOTOR. What makes it work is the fact that it's not a tie-in game, but an original story based in the Star Wars universe. And it was made a few decades after the beloved trilogy, not as a cash-in to go along with it, allowing plenty of time to actually craft a proper game as apposed to the rushed hack jobs most tie-ins are.

Though SW: TOR has quite a few tie-in stuff in the pipeline (a book series for one). So it's not like Lucasfilm isn't wringing every penny out of everything as normal :)

Though I've read the first Old Republic book, and it's actually quite good. IMO the books are the only consistently worthwhile thing coming out of the Star Wars franchise not made by Bioware.

thenumberthirteen:
The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

I think it can be done but it would require a lot of care in how the game property is used. Most game movies seem to minimize (if not outright marginalize) the game setting and they really need to do the reverse - otherwise you do just get knock off crime/fantasy/action/etc. movies. It helps if the setting itself is rich and recognizable. With proper care you could do a Bioshock movie since the setting is very recognizable to the fans (providing you actually make the setting recognizable to the fans). Assassin's Creed would probably work well, the parkour and aesthetics should set it apart from action movies and if they draw upon the story of the series even better - although I think it would be best to skip the whole memory exploration bit and just follow one of these assassins.

Movies also need to focus on what makes them good and not trying to have gimmicky game connections. The trailers for the Doom movie made a big deal of it's first person perspective sections . . . but if I want to see that I'll play the game.

So many game / movie combos are happening at the moment.

I'm glad Rockstar are taking a more cautious approach, but ironically I think the worlds they create are actually quite suited to adaptations. Heres hoping their caution combined with their world building skills eventually results in a great movie.

No-one expects them to transpose a games story directly into a film, but creating a side story within it's world would work. Imagine a film focused around Marshal Johnson of RDR... It could show how he got his 2 deputies, explore his exploits prior to the game, visit familiar game locations, show 2 Rocks before it was in bandit hands, etc. etc.

Mortal Kombat 1 was a good movie (better if you were in an altered state). Resident Evil 1 was a good movie (also better if you were in an altered state). Other video game based movies either sucked or didn't stay true enough to the game to really count.

As much everyone loves to have Uwe Boll Postal was a pretty good movie. Also the dungeon siege movie was fun to watch, the best part was Ray Liotta acting obviously embarrassed to be there. But these two didn't have much to do with the games.

Same should be said for novels, comics and mobile and facebook games.

Here I thought that Red Dead was being made into a film...with the talent behind it, they could pull it off.

Uwe Boll's probably not going to listen to one word they say.

This after their press releases on LA Noire blurring games and movies together, and their recognition by a film festi. Mmmhmm... whatever you say man. Time will tell.

The problem I find with many game>movie translations is that games are often very compelling and the story very gripping ONLY by virtue of the fact that they are games, and you are playing through them. Once the aspect of your own direct involvement and the gameplay mechanics are removed, the stories in them show their true nature: mediocre and hackneyed.

RDR is great, but would it really make an awesome western film, or would it just feel like a run of the mill western with an obvious plot and archetypical characters?

Good game != good film. They can share aspects that make both good, but the core method of experience is so different that if you present the characters and story in the same way, it ultimately fails. Then again, if you change the properties of it too much, it becomes too dissimilar from the game and is rather pointless to make in the first place.

I don't really understand this perceived necessity to make games in to movies. Why does it have to be done?

Saltyk:

thenumberthirteen:
The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

Agreed. Only thing I would add is that a good Vice City movie would just be Scarface. A bad one would just be laughable.

Not that I don't think that a good original IP could not translate into other media well, it just takes effort. Just look at KOTOR. What makes it work is the fact that it's not a tie-in game, but an original story based in the Star Wars universe. And it was made a few decades after the beloved trilogy, not as a cash-in to go along with it, allowing plenty of time to actually craft a proper game as apposed to the rushed hack jobs most tie-ins are.

Not really related, but I'll also bring up KotOR II: absolutely brilliant stuff is in there (read this if you don't believe me), absolutely ruined in most eyes by all the cut content, and that was caused by lack of development time (though, it was more that their time was suddenly cut in half; one of the things that made it frustrating was all the loose threads that would not have been there if they knew how much time they had). So I think you hit the nail on the head with the part I bolded.

Logan Westbrook:
Rockstar Exec Criticizes Cash-In Videogame Movies

The decision to make a movie out of a game has to be about more than money.

Rockstar Games co-founder and VP of creativity, Dan Houser, seemingly isn't a particularly big fan of the fusion of videogames and movies. Whether it's a big screen adaptation of a successful game, or the tie-in game for a successful movie, Houser feels that too often, people are just out to make a quick buck, rather than a good product.

While I agree with what this guy is saying, I think he's just blowing smoke.

What, Rockstar Games co-founder and Vice President of creativity has been releasing GTA games out of the bottom of his heart so that he could better our world? Yeah, right; it's always about the money.

Watch him change his tune as soon as someone mentions making a Red Dead Redemption or GTA movie.

Fidelias:

What, Rockstar Games co-founder and Vice President of creativity has been releasing GTA games out of the bottom of his heart so that he could better our world? Yeah, right; it's always about the money.

Watch him change his tune as soon as someone mentions making a Red Dead Redemption or GTA movie.

Urrr, there's a whole paragraph in the article where he says that the idea of making movies had come up before, but that Rockstar wanted to focus on making games.

They publish the Max Payne games, right?

So who's idea was it for them to turn that into a movie? Granted it was a decent attempt, and I still say Mark Wahlberg was a perfect choice for the role, but whoever was in charge of the story just got confused somewhere and figured they'd be all kinds of artistic with the use of drugs and valkyrie and such.

Film with potential, but ended up going from boring to bad to worse.

Logan Westbrook:

Fidelias:

What, Rockstar Games co-founder and Vice President of creativity has been releasing GTA games out of the bottom of his heart so that he could better our world? Yeah, right; it's always about the money.

Watch him change his tune as soon as someone mentions making a Red Dead Redemption or GTA movie.

Urrr, there's a whole paragraph in the article where he says that the idea of making movies had come up before, but that Rockstar wanted to focus on making games.

Okay, but that doesn't mean there wasn't more to it than just "I believe we should focus on making video games."

I'm not a conspiracy nut, but I haven't known a co-founder of a company to just screw the money for the greater good.

Then again, that's my opinion. You could be completely right. I hope you're completely right.

GTA and Red Dead Redemption definitely do not need movies. The games work so well because it made routine gameplay elements part of the story, furthering the immersion. For example, in GTA IV you could freak out and kill a bunch of civilians, but it made sense in the story because Niko was this really tortured, frustrated guy who could snap in an instant. At the end of Red Dead,


Rockstar games work because they are able to put you in the shoes of the protagonist like no one else. A movie could never really capture this.
That said, if Rockstar made these movies I'd still see the shit out of them...

Every artistic measure must not be inspired by money. It doesnt need to be a movie of a game.

Even a sequel from a game cant be made thinking about the money.

Fidelias:

Logan Westbrook:

Fidelias:

What, Rockstar Games co-founder and Vice President of creativity has been releasing GTA games out of the bottom of his heart so that he could better our world? Yeah, right; it's always about the money.

Watch him change his tune as soon as someone mentions making a Red Dead Redemption or GTA movie.

Urrr, there's a whole paragraph in the article where he says that the idea of making movies had come up before, but that Rockstar wanted to focus on making games.

Okay, but that doesn't mean there wasn't more to it than just "I believe we should focus on making video games."

I'm not a conspiracy nut, but I haven't known a co-founder of a company to just screw the money for the greater good.

Then again, that's my opinion. You could be completely right. I hope you're completely right.

Well it's never black or white. Every studio over a certain size has to start worrying about investors, publishers. stockholders, all that stuff. The sign of a good studio is one that maintains its creative integrity despite that and makes the two work together.

OP: I'm glad to hear this. I'd be as interested in a Rockstar movie as the next guy but let's be real: what could a Red Dead Redemption movie be aside from a standard western? Could GTA be anything beyond a regular crime movie with a shifty morality? Could an L.A. Noire film be anything beyond a period cop drama? I'm not saying these movies wouldn't be good. I'm saying they'd just end up being standard genre films with Rocsktar game titles. At best, they'd feel like rehashes, at worst, they'd have little to do with the game and would make the whole IP look bad.

I just can't imagine an RDR movie being any more satisfying than simply playing RDR.

Thank Christ for Rockstar.

I wouldn't want them to make a movie; with the amount of cutscenes, level of characterization and overall importance that the plot plays in the average Rockstar game, a movie seems quite unecessary. The only movie they ever needed was the 8 minute GTA2 movie.

Indeed, sir. The world needs less Uwe Bolls and more Jerry Bruckheimers.

Rockstar did a good job with the Introduction, so I'm sure if they put the time and the resources into it they could do a proper GTA movie.

Rock star"their not doing this just for money...their doing it for a SHITLOAD OF MONEY"..and they need to stop. cookie 4 reference.

Keep movies where they are and games where they are ! I seriously don't give a fuck if they stop doing movies about games. NO good filmmaker wants to risk themselves because if the movie is shit everybody laughs about it and if the movie is good BUT doesn't respect the structure of the game every fan of the game in question will make a Youtube video about it to say how much it's "bad". With all the cut scenes of games these days are like a little movie on their own anyway. I really don't know why game fans want MORE of them we are already assaulted by comic book movies (i like them but there are too many of them) and most movies based on games are shit.

Who is it that actually really -wants- video game movies?

"The decision to make a movie out of a game has to be about more than money" Dan Houser
"We'll offer you a galleon full of gold" 21st Century Fax
"I'll take it!" Dan Houser

Don't get me wrong I applaud his stand, most movie tie in games are shocking and games that are turned into movies normally such donkey balls, but ever man has his price

Avatar Roku:

Saltyk:

thenumberthirteen:
The trouble is I think the two genres are extremely incompatible since what makes a good game doesn't make a good film. I mean GTA would never translate into a film and still be GTA. Vice City would just be Scarface.

Agreed. Only thing I would add is that a good Vice City movie would just be Scarface. A bad one would just be laughable.

Not that I don't think that a good original IP could not translate into other media well, it just takes effort. Just look at KOTOR. What makes it work is the fact that it's not a tie-in game, but an original story based in the Star Wars universe. And it was made a few decades after the beloved trilogy, not as a cash-in to go along with it, allowing plenty of time to actually craft a proper game as apposed to the rushed hack jobs most tie-ins are.

Not really related, but I'll also bring up KotOR II: absolutely brilliant stuff is in there (read this if you don't believe me), absolutely ruined in most eyes by all the cut content, and that was caused by lack of development time (though, it was more that their time was suddenly cut in half; one of the things that made it frustrating was all the loose threads that would not have been there if they knew how much time they had). So I think you hit the nail on the head with the part I bolded.

First off, Awesome name! Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the best shows I have seen in a while. If not ever.

Actually, KOTOR II was one of the games that proved to me that developers need a decent amount of time to produce good work. Don't get me wrong, KOTOR II was a great game, but even before I knew any of what had happened, I felt that something was missing. That things weren't there that should have been (like a romantic relationship with the Handmaiden or Mira or a resolution with the HK-50 assassin droids). When I heard how they were forced to release an incomplete game, I knew I wasn't wrong. And honestly, I felt cheated.

Really how is this not related? Sure, this topic is about movie tie-ins, but I stated that not being given enough time is one of the reason such games fail. KOTOR II wasn't a movie tie-in, but illustrates the problem perfectly. Maybe even better than an actual movie based game would. After all, we kind of expect them to suck.

Saltyk:

Avatar Roku:

Saltyk:

Agreed. Only thing I would add is that a good Vice City movie would just be Scarface. A bad one would just be laughable.

Not that I don't think that a good original IP could not translate into other media well, it just takes effort. Just look at KOTOR. What makes it work is the fact that it's not a tie-in game, but an original story based in the Star Wars universe. And it was made a few decades after the beloved trilogy, not as a cash-in to go along with it, allowing plenty of time to actually craft a proper game as apposed to the rushed hack jobs most tie-ins are.

Not really related, but I'll also bring up KotOR II: absolutely brilliant stuff is in there (read this if you don't believe me), absolutely ruined in most eyes by all the cut content, and that was caused by lack of development time (though, it was more that their time was suddenly cut in half; one of the things that made it frustrating was all the loose threads that would not have been there if they knew how much time they had). So I think you hit the nail on the head with the part I bolded.

First off, Awesome name! Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the best shows I have seen in a while. If not ever.

Actually, KOTOR II was one of the games that proved to me that developers need a decent amount of time to produce good work. Don't get me wrong, KOTOR II was a great game, but even before I knew any of what had happened, I felt that something was missing. That things weren't there that should have been (like a romantic relationship with the Handmaiden or Mira or a resolution with the HK-50 assassin droids). When I heard how they were forced to release an incomplete game, I knew I wasn't wrong. And honestly, I felt cheated.

Really how is this not related? Sure, this topic is about movie tie-ins, but I stated that not being given enough time is one of the reason such games fail. KOTOR II wasn't a movie tie-in, but illustrates the problem perfectly. Maybe even better than an actual movie based game would. After all, we kind of expect them to suck.

Hehe, I see what you're saying about most of that stuff, but here's food for thought about the romances: they're actually exactly as intended. The head writer, Chris Avellone of Planescape Torment fame, is on record as saying he is awful at writing normal, Bioware-style romances. That's why there are 2 "romances" in the game (which get beyond the "there should be a romance here" feeling of Handmaiden and Disciple. at least)and they are REEEEEAALLLY creepy. The male one is Visas (with her constant "my life for yours" and all that), and the female one is (no joke) Darth Sion. Seriously, play as a woman, Sion gets all creepy stalkerish (and sort of incestuous, when you think about his and your relationship to a certain character). You know the final fight against him?When you're a man, he fights you out of jealousy, but when you're a woman, he fights you in order to try to keep You-Know-Who from breaking you. Seriously.

Honestly, I think I'd take that sort of romance over a Bioware one any day. So weird.

Oh, and as for Mira, they made a point of having her say that she was not interested, but if I remember, they did it in a way that basically gave the middle finger to shippers who insist everyone has to be a romance. I remember finding it quite funny, actually.

As for the HK-50's, that Let's Play I linked includes a walkthrough of what we know of the Droid Factory, so you may find that interesting. Looks like, either way, we'll get to play it for ourselves when Team Gizka finally finishes, so there's that.

EDIT:Thanks for the complement, by the way. I'm a bit annoyed with the name, actually; as soon as I chose it, I realized I could have done "DragonOfTheWest". Would have been so much better. Oh well.

 

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