Avi Arad, the producer behind several upcoming videogame adaptations, believes the genre can take off the same way comic book movies recently have.
Hollywood has been producing licensed videogame movies for a couple of decades now, and with few exceptions, they tend to do very poorly. That's something Avi Arad, one of the producers behind the original X-Men and Spider-Man movies, hopes can be changed. With a belief that successful videogame adaptations could one day be as popular and common as comic book movies, Arad is hard at work on a variety of licensed projects, including Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, and even Mass Effect. While some of these projects have suffered setbacks along the way, Arad happily stated that all three films are still in pre-production, and hopes they will reach theaters in the next 3-6 years.
"I think that film studios are bankers and filmmakers are risk takers and somewhere in between we meet on the battlefield," Arad explained. "And the moment one video game movie goes through the roof, it's the same thing that I've been through with comic books."
According to Arad, the safest bet for the videogame-to-smash-hit-movie forumla is Uncharted. "I think Uncharted will be very successful," he said. "It's a father and son game. There are things about it that are interesting. I think the world of antiquities theft, there are many countries in the world that realized they're being robbed and they're trying to recoup these important pieces."
Uncharted certainly has cinematic elements of the Indiana Jones variety, but when it comes to story, Metal Gear Solid has more to work with. "If you go to Metal Gear Solid, it's actually full of storytelling," Arad continued, "And with Metal Gear, you have Cain and Abel." By the same token, Mass Effect trilogy-length storyline has lots of material to draw from when crafting a movie-length character arc. "It's a big idea, that we, humans, are the least developed, the least trusted, it's an interesting mirror image of our world, we are the aliens now ... Love the project, it's getting there, it's been a lot of work; some movies take five, six years before they're ready."
Arad acknowledges that many difficulties exist when translating videogames to film, but he still makes a great point when comparing the genre to comic books. Even after the success of Richard Donner's Superman and Tim Burton's Batman, superhero stories were largely considered impossible to adapt. It took years of multiple box office smash hits like X-Men, The Dark Knight, and Iron Man before Hollywood finally started to change its tune. Videogames are certainly in a similar state today, but if something like Uncharted can help us forget about Max Payne or Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, then maybe one day some director will create The Avengers of videogame movies.