The world of video game adaptations on film has been a rocky one, to say the least. Thanks to less than stellar early efforts and some major pitfalls from questionable filmmakers along the way, perceptions of this part of the film market continue to struggle. Recent success stories in film and television have begun to challenge the once negative status quo, but show the potential for a new generation of respected projects.
overcome the past
When it comes to the bad reputation of video game adaptations, two big names in infamy cannot be ignored. The first of these is the original Super Mario Bros movie, which hit theaters in 1993. Disliked by viewers and cast members alike, this film seemed disinterested in the source material and instead created a bizarre interpretation that ended up being a box office bomb.
The second point of shame comes from the much-maligned director Uwe Boll. With the release of video game adaptations like Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, House of the Dead, and Far Cry, Boll’s films have been panned around the world. Gaming’s reputation in the movie space, seen as lowering the bar and poisoning the well, has had an uphill battle thanks to creatives in that vein with little respect for the original titles.
take gaming seriously
In the 2020s, gaming is being taken more seriously than ever. Aside from a gradual increase in popularity, recent international mega hits like Fortnite have also helped the industry move beyond just gaming into real life. This starts with dedicated sites built around offering better FPS Fortnite picks to genuine collectibles like Funko Pops at major retailers like Walmart.
On the filmmaking front, we’ve finally reached an age where the folks who grew up playing games and gaming are replacing the old Hollywood guard. Instead of movies written, produced, and directed by people who don’t care about games, the new environment is made up of real, lifelong gamers. That’s exactly how we got the great new Sonic and Detective Pikachu movies, and it gives hope that the new Mario movie won’t be anything like the old one.
The last potential bone of contention that video game movies have shrugged off in the last decade is the idea that they came from some silly place. Games are often frivolous, true, but that doesn’t make them unadaptable, as the modern dominance of comic book adaptation has shown. Even if a game is based on a silly concept, it depends on how that concept is developed. With serious games like The Last of Us now seeing adaptations for television, it’s not as if there are just basic themes and ideas to draw from.
Video games are now worth more than music and the box office. Combined with friendlier audiences and an improving track record, the 2020s could be the time when video game movies will be judged more on their merits than just their provenance. Don’t get us wrong, it’s the nature of filmmaking that there will always be failures along the way, but for the first time there is real hope for the next few years in video game cinema.