In the years since Den of Geek first sprung into existence, we’ve consistently kept an eye on the videogames that have been touted for the big screen treatment. We’ve tried to list them all in a big article a few times before, and it feels like the time has come to pull a new version together.
Out of the hundreds of thousands of films in the world currently in development, a large number of them serve as adaptations for (mostly) successful video games and video game franchises. Some have been seen on our screens before either via a previous adaptation or television series, while some are just getting their first shot on the big screen.
Whichever category they fall into, they still have to navigate their way through the difficult world of filmmaking with many of them inevitably forever damned to development hell. The following are just a few of these adaptations hoping to someday become a success.
The Angry Birds franchise currently stands as the largest mobile app success in the world, so a film appears to be the next step of progression for this massive money-making vehicle. A 3D CG animated feature, Angry Birds will be produced by former Marvel Studios CEO and current Rovio Senior Advisor, David Maisel.
The Angry Birds Movie marks the directorial debut for Frozen, Paperman, Wreck-It Ralph, and Tangled animator Clay Kaytis. He’s co-directed it with Fergal Reilly (another directorial debutant), who worked in the art department on Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Spider-Man 2.
Ubisoft’s historical action adventure series is another videogame property that has made it all the way through the movie development process. Ubisoft have teamed with 20th Century Fox, New Regency, and a few other companies to get this one off the ground.
They’ve assembled an impressive cast and crew, too – Michael Fassbender will star as Callum Lynch, a modern day man who discovers he has an assassin for an ancestor. Callum relives his predecessor’s memories, to help bring down a big threat in his own time. Fassbender’s Macbeth director Justin Kurzel calls the shots, and his Macbeth co-star Marion Cotillard plays an unknown role.
In 2009, Universal acquired the rights to vintage blaster Asteroids. Very little has been released about this title other than Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer of Transformers and the GI Joe series, being involved. What story would this film have? Two years ago we had no idea, and today is the just the same. It looks to us that this one may be stuck in development hell. Bonaventura most recently told IGN in 2009 that it is a movie about two brothers who go through a "seminal experience" while in space with a "big backdrop."
In Feb. 2015, Universal hired F. Scot Frazier – writer of upcoming Nicholas Hoult driving thriller Collide – to rework the existing script.
Roland Emmerich was once linked to the director’s chair, but seemingly stepped away around 2011. The shooting-rocks-and-nothing-else structure of Asteroids doesn’t immediately lend itself to moviemaking, but once you imagine what it’d be like to actually have that menial-yet-spacefaring job, it’s easier to imagine a few different takes. Fingers crossed for a dark comedy version.
Now an even bigger franchise since the release of Bioshock Infinite, Bioshock seems an interesting yet natural progression for this award-winning collection of stunning games. Pirates of the Caribbean’s Gore Verbinski was set to direct before he dropped out.
Universal were wary of spending too much on an adult-themed movie, and suggested a less expensive, $80 million version of Bioshock instead. Verbinski refused to accept a lower budget, so a new director was brought in and swiftly carted back out again. Verbinski went on to have his carte blanche film in 2013's The Lone Ranger. As of today the project has, disappointingly, been canned - by none other than Bioshock's creator, Ken Levine.
"It may happen one day, who knows," Levine said of the stalled project, "but it'd have to be the right combination of people."
In April 2014, though, Sony registered some BioShock movie web domains, so it looks to be back in development, although we don't have an official greenlight.
Not to be confused with the 2013 horror film The Borderlands, a movie based on Gearbox and Take-Two’s immensely popular sci-fi game Borderlands recently went into development. Lionsgate will be the studio taking us to the abandoned-by-the-big-wigs frontier planet of Pandora.
They’ve recruited producers Avi Arad and his son Ari Arad, both of whom were involved in initially bringing Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the X-Men to the big screen. We’ve got high hopes.
Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty games are massive money-spinners with a fervent fan-base. It’s surprising that we haven’t already seen a film version. This will be amended soon enough – Activision Blizzard has launched its own film studio, with a Call of Duty cinematic universe as their biggest goal.
We don’t know who the creative team will be, and we don’t know when the first film will come out. One thing we do know is that the official press release announcing Activision’s movie plans cited Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III as examples of the series’ cinematic potential.
Dead Rising: Watchtower is a video game movie that already exists. The adaptation of Capcom’s open world zombie survival game was released online earlier this year, to a middling reception.
Still, online distributor Crackle saw enough promise to green light a sequel. Dead Rising: Watchtower 2 is now in development, for a 2016 release. We’d expect Jesse Metcalfe to return as reporter Chase Carter.
Originally announced in 2002, Deus Ex was scheduled for release in 2006, only to be completely cancelled two years before. Not much has been heard since, except that it is going through rewrites and it is still alive as a movie adaptation of Square Enix’s universally acclaimed cyberpunk title Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
In 2011, the company that gained great success with the Resident Evil franchise, Screen Gems, announced the plans for a Devil May Cry movie. Little has been revealed about this plan other than it will be an origin story with the original character style. It still has no known writers or director. Bummer.
Uwe Boll may have done his very damnedest to break any chance of a compelling Far Cry movie being made with his own unique take on the material, but Ubisoft is coming back around for another go. This time, it's looking to invest more heavily and retain a greater degree of creative control over the film. It would be no understatement—as much as Mr Boll brings a smile to our faces—to suggest that's a good idea.
Scott Cawthon’s intensely frightening point-and-click survival game Five Nights at Freddy’s has been picked up by Warner Bros. for a filmic adaptation. We’ll get to see a security guard fighting animatronic animals on the big screen, it would seem.
Monster House director Gil Kenan is helming the film version, which will use practical effects to bring the creepy robotic inhabitants of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza to life. He’s been releasing teasing glimpses of the film on social media, which has us rather intrigued.
Gears Of War is stuck in development hell. New directors have been constantly reappointed and the $100 million budget reduced. It has been a while since we last heard any update on the Gears of War movie, and the last update we received came via Variety which announced that Scott Stuber been hired to produce. It doesn’t look promising.
Previously, Stuart Beattie (who created Jack Sparrow and went on to write 30 Days of Night, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra, and I, Frankenstein) was drafting a script as late as 2007 with Len Wiseman, fresh off the first two Underworld films and Live Free or Die Hard, attached to direct. And while the quality of that movie would have been highly suspect, the thought of Kate Beckinsale (Wiseman's wife and muse) crashing the franchise's boy's club mentality is quite amusing.
On the Tom Clancy and Ubisoft side of things, there is movement at Warner Bros. with the parterning of Michael Bay, director of Transformers and producer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to produce a Ghost Recon movie. The story of a fictional U.S. Special Forces division that operates as the U.S. President's personal army and assassination squad, the picture will mark Bay's first collaboration with WB.
WB and Bay have since tapped Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia to pen the screenplay. Federman and Scaia are still primarily TV writers who have worked on Jericho, Human Target, and Warehouse 13. Federman and Scaia have also previously collaborated on a Zorro reboot script that Sony has yet to film and a draft of the now-seemingly-doomed film version of the comic Y: The Last Man. They’ll be hoping that their Ghost Recon film doesn’t go the same way, but with someone as lucrative as Michael Bay interested, it’s hard to imagine Warners giving up on the idea.
God Of War was originally announced in 2005 after the game's release, but was dropped four years later by X-Men: The Last Stand director Brett Ratner (who has since made his swords and sandal epic with Dwayne Johnson in this summer's Hercules). Daniel Craig turned down the lead role and that seemed to be the end of it. However, Piranha 3DD and Saw IV writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton were hired to rewrite a draft by The Wolfman screenwriter David Self. They have since said in February 2014 that the film will hopefully strive to humanize the character of Kratos and focus on his backstory, making comparisons to Christopher Nolan and Batman, as they head in a "bolder" direction than that of the games. But the film has moved no further than this, and there's still with no director even though a $150 million budget has been earmarked. Can it be done?
There was a time where EA’s Need for Speed game and Polyphony/Sony’s Gran Turismo were both in development for film adaptations at the same time. As you already know, EA won the race by miles and the Need for Speed film has already made it to cinemas.
Sony are pushing on with their Gran Turismo movie regardless, with Oblivion and Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski calling the shots. Red, Battleship, and The Last Witch Hunter scribes Jon Hoeber and Eric Hoeber are working on the scripts currently. The film is being guided by producers Dana Brunetti and Mike De Luca.
It was announced in 2005 that Peter Jackson was set to produce a Halo film adaptation, helmed by director Neill Blomkamp. After numerous script rewrites and the stopping and starting of preproduction, the project was declared dead two years later. The two directors later collaborated on District 9, and in spite of occasional discussions and rumors that spring up, the Halo movie seems stuck in development hell, where it's likely to remain for some time to come.
Noir masterpiece Heavy Rain seems naturally cinematic on its own, but a film adaptation is in fact in the works. The rights were acquired by New Line days after the game’s demo at 2006’s E3 and sold at auction to production company Unique Features. The film was soon after fast tracked by WB, and NYPD Blue and Deadwood writer David Milch was hired to write the script in 2013. Little else has been released about the film since then.
It was initially planned for an adaptation of the Kane & Lynch series to burst onto our screens in 2014, originally set to star Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx respectively, but this doesn't appear to be the case since we received an update in November 2013 which suggested Gerard Butler and Vin Diesel were up for the parts. Saturday Night Live’s Jon Lovitz was rumored to star in a mystery role, but as of right now the release date has been set to "unknown," and the two lead roles are still unconfirmed.
Although some would argue that the game is cinematic enough in of itself, Sony subsidiary Screen Gems (the company behind the Resident Evil film franchise) are currently working hard on bringing Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us to the big screen.
Sam Raimi is on board as a producer, while the game’s writer, Neil Druckmann, is working on the screenplay. (Druckman also penned the Uncharted series). Druckmann gave an update in January 2015, insisting that his screenplay would be "pretty faithful" to his original game script, despite a few "big changes."
Maisie Williams has apparently had meetings about playing the lead character, Ellie.
The sprawling sci-fi franchise that is BioWare’s Mass Effect saga seems tailor-made for adaptation into a cinematic space opera. It’s no surprise, then, that Legendary and Warner Bros. have snapped up the rights.
Avi Arad is board as a producer, and Mark Protsevich worked on a script back in 2012. However, in March 2014, Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull revealed that getting the film’s story nailed down and ready for production wasn’t easy:
“I think the canon they've created is sophisticated,” he told IGN. "It's very broad, meaning you can't pitch that in 30 seconds, right? It's a complex story. So it is challenging. If it wasn't challenging, the movie would have been out by now, but it is. We've just got to stick to our guns that, if it's a movie that's going to come from us, we want it to be great. If we can't crack that yet then we just have to keep working.”
Metal Gear Solid has had one of the longest movie adaptation gestation periods on this list. A Metal Gear Solid film adaptation was put into pre-production in late 2013 after six years of development. With supposed interest from Christian Bale, all we know is that the film will be set in Alaska. We received an exclusive update in April 2014 on the movie's progress from producer Avi Arad, who previously produced the Marvel films of the 2000s and The Amazing Spider-Man films.
Various writers, producers and directors (notably Quentin Tarantino, Kurt Wimmer and Paul Thomas Anderson) have been linked to the production over the year. In 2014, The Kings of Summer and Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts was linked to the movie. In March 2015, Monsters: Dark Continent writer Jay Basu signed up to script the film.
The first-person shooter Metro 2033—itself based on a novel of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky—is heading to the movies. The filmmakers will apparently use Mad Max and The Hunger Games as inspirations while adapting the Metro 2033 story (all about a Russian post-apocalyptic underground wasteland, and the chap who dares to wander through it). F. Scott Frasier, who penned John Cusack action movie The Numbers Station, is working on the script.
In 1995, we saw a Mortal Kombat adaptation and in 1997 a sequel. In 2011, Warner Bros hired Kevin Tancharoen – who rose to directorial prominence with the 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, and has since worked on Mortal Kombat’s TV series, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Supergirl, and The Flash – to direct a rebooted Mortal Kombat movie. It was reported in 2013 that the movie will have a budget of $40 to $50 million.
By 2013, though, Tancharoen had quit the project to "move on to other creative opportunities." That didn’t spell doom for the film, though, as James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring, Furious 7, and the upcoming Aquaman) recently signed up as a producer.
A movie adaptation of Mojang’s massive building game Minecraft has been touted for some time. Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy was linked for a while, with unconfirmed talk suggesting that the movie might be a live action adventure, rather than an animation.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s co-creator Rob McElhenney took Levy’s place in 2015, and he’s now working with producers Roy Lee (The LEGO Movie) and Jill Messick (Mean Girls) to get the film off the ground.
Here’s one that’s made it all the way through the murky moors of movie development – Insomniac Games’ platformer Ratchet & Clank is hitting cinemas worldwide next year.
This animated Ratchet & Clank movie is an origin story for the eponymous duo. Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson, and Sylvester Stallone are among the voice cast. TMNT director Kevin Munroe co-directed the movie with Finding Nemo cinematographer Jericca Cleland.
Rayman spin-off Raving Rabbids has carved out quite a name for itself. So much so, in fact, that Ubisoft has teamed up with Sony to bring the troublemaking rabbits to the big screen.
This one will be a for a live action/stop-motion animation hybrid. Robot Chicken writers Matthew Senreich, Tom Sheppard, and Zeb Wells are working on the script as we speak.
The Resident Evil film franchise has proven itself a bankable commodity since kicking off back in 2002. The sixth film in the series will be Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and it’ll bring Milla Jovovich back to the role of Alice for the last time.
Alice will be up against it this time, teaming up with Shawn Roberts’ villainous Albert Wesker (a popular character from the Capcom games, and a former leader of the Umbrella Corporation in the films) for one final stand against the undead.
Sony picked up the rights to Rollercoaster Tycoon in 2010, and now a live action/CG hybrid film is set to be made. Norwegian director Harald Zwart supposedly helms this interesting choice of adaptation and a storyline has not yet been released. What can we expect from this? We honestly have no idea. Nothing has been announced since then.
Sucker Punch Productions/ Sanzaru Games/Sony’s stealth-based platformer Sly Cooper hasn’t yet made the jump to PS4. Instead, the title character is getting a movie. TMNT’s Kevin Munroe wrote and directed this one, which is already in the can.
Ian James Corlett replaces the games’ voice actor Kevin Miller as the voice of Sly, but others from the original cast (namely Matt Olsen and Chris Murphy) will return to their roles.
Ubisoft’s film studio is working with New Regency Productions on a film version of the black ops stealth game Splinter Cell, with Tom Hardy attached to portray the games series’ protagonist Sam Fisher. For a while, Doug Liman of Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity was attached to direct.
He departed the project in April 2015, though. Ubisoft are searching for a new director, while Frank John Hughes – of Dark Tourist and Leave – works on the script. Previous writers include X-Men: First Class’ Sheldon Turner.
Joseph Kahn – director of countless music videos, as well as that Power/Rangers fan film – has been linked to the director’s chair.
The classic 80s arcade game Spy Hunter has been in development as a movie since Universal bought the rights in 2003. At one stage, Dwayne Johnson was involved, but it’s unclear if he still is. Last we heard, Zombieland’s Ruben Flesicher was on-board to direct.
In November 2015, a pair of writers were hired to resurrect the project – Nelson Greaves and Sam Chalsen, both of whom are known for their work on the Sleepy Hollow TV series. It’s unclear if Flesicher remains involved.
A prequel to the 2010 Tekken adaptation is currently in development, set to be directed by Thai martial arts director Prachya Pinkaew. In 2014, we learned the film will be called Tekken - A Man Called X and star Kane Kosugi (Godzilla: Final Wars).
The first Tomb Raider adaptation starring Angelina Jolie was the highest-grossing film adaptation of a video\game ever released in the U.S. A complete reboot of the franchise is currently in planning stages after the rights were received in 2011 by GK Films. Planned as an origin story with a younger Lara, MGM are officially involved and Buffy writer Marti Noxon will provide the script. Meanwhile a fan favorite casting, Captain America: The First Avenger's Hayley Atwell, who has recently cemented her starring vehicle in the Marvel Studios/ABC TV series Agent Carter, has expressed interest in playing the role.
GK Films, MGM and Warner Bros. recently brought in Roar Uthaug – director of Norwegian disaster flick The Wave and horror thriller Cold Prey – to direct. They’re stilling trying to find a writer to put the script together, though.
Prolific producer Avi Arad has been talking about adapting Naughty Dog’s Uncharted into a film, at Sony, since 2008. In the years since then, directors David O. Russell and Neil Burger have both joined – and subsequently departed – the project.
Mark Wahlberg and Chris Pratt were both linked to the starring role of Nathan Drake, but neither is attached to the film at this stage. Horrible Bosses and King of Kong director Seth Gordon recently stepped on board to helm the film, with Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker scribe Mark Boal on scripting duties.
Chances are that you’ve heard plenty about Duncan Jones’ (Moon, Source Code) upcoming Warcraft movie already. He’s distilled Blizzard’s sprawling MMORPG/card game/strategy game into an epic battle movie, due out next year.
Humans and orcs are the two main factions in the fight, and a concerted effort has been made to have engaging characters on both sides of the conflict. Travis Fimmel’s Sir Anduin Lothar leads the human Alliance, while Toby Kebbell’s Durotan heads up the orc Horde.
The aforementioned Warcraft director Duncan Jones has envisioned a trilogy of movies, we learnt not that long ago. He told The Verge that “we kind of have an idea of what we would do with 2 and 3,” back in July 2015.
We’ll have to see how the first film does at the box office before we can guarantee whether these sequels will actually happen, of course.
Ubisoft’s stealth-based hacking-themed third-person-shooter title Watch Dogs has been touted for the movie treatment since 2013. Ubisoft announced this project at the same time as the aforementioned Splinter Cell and Raving Rabbids films.
The last we heard was in April 2014, when Zombieland’s writing duo Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese were signed up to script the film. It’s been radio silence since then, but it does take a while to write a script, in all fairness.
In a way, we’ve already had a Witcher movie, and a TV series. The books that inspired the games were adapted to film and television (as The Hexer) in 2001 and 2002. Since CD Projekt RED’s action adventure game brought The Witcher property back to the public eye in 2007, it shouldn’t be too surprising that another movie has been green lit.
In November 2015, Platige Films (who’ve made some brilliant games trailers) and The Sean Daniel Company (The Mummy film series) announced the new movie, which will borrow themes from the books and the games, rather than being a straight adaptation of any specific story. Tomasz Baginski – making his feature film debut after a string of successful short films – will direct. Prolific TV writer Thania St. John will pen the script.