Hollywood needs to stop making movies based on video games

Despite persevering with many adaptations, Hollywood can’t seem to make a decent movie inspired by a video game.

Meryl D'Souza October 19, 2016

The new trailer for Assassin’s Creed is out. In it, we have Michael Fassbender - the most dangerous actor in the world - going from rooftop to rooftop, both employing and avoiding weapons, including axes, crossbows, arrows, torches and daggers. Take a look for yourself above. 

Sure it all looks and sounds exciting right now and with Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons joining Fassbender, we can understand your excitement but try not to get your hopes too high. For much of their Hollywood history, video game adaptations have failed to make it on the silver screen. All of them have either been beaten up at the box office or rejected by critics. 

At the time of writing this Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the highest-grossing film of 2015, having made about $700 million worldwide. Yet Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, a first-person shooter video game launched about a month before the Star Wars flick, made $550 million in its opening week. Let there be no doubt, video games are surpassing Hollywood.

It’s no wonder Hollywood has looked to cash-in on video game popularity ever since the early nineties starting with Super Mario Brothers which earned just $20.9 million on a $48 million production budget. Hollywood has tried, but continually failed to make a movie based on a video game work. 

It’s not like the audience isn’t there. Just last year, 27 million people watched a video game tournament. And it’s not just nerds, geeks and children anymore. You only need to look around to notice, but we’re going to help with quantifiable figures.

You may have heard of Pokemon Go. At the time of its release in July, it had about 45 million daily users and the target demographic wasn’t just kids. The numbers have since declined with the game recording only 40 million daily users in August but even that was because people were getting tired of glitches in the game.

The problem is not the audience, the problem is Hollywood hitting the right notes to make these movies appealing to those fans and neutrals at the same time – something Hollywood hasn’t been able to do. Don’t believe us? Take a look at a few other huge video game franchises that made it to the big screen only to be ridiculed.

Street Fighter (1994)

The third video game-to-film adaptation to ever hit movie screens was not short on star power. Featuring the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and Raúl Juliá, the movie did quite well at the box office. The poor gamers who saw it, however, probably still suffer nightmares –mostly of Van Damme’s portrayal of the American Guile with a French accent. But forget the cringe-worthy acting for a minute. Street Fighter fails to deliver on the single thing it should have gotten right: the fight sequences.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

You’d think casting Angelina Jolie 9fresh from her Oscar win) as the badass Croft would be enough to make this a decent action flick but, in terms of ineptitude, the choppy pacing runs neck-and-neck with the cheesy dialogue. It’s like director Simon West learned nothing from Barb Wire’s mistakes.

Max Payne (2008)

If there ever was a game tailor-made for the movie treatment, it was this one: rock-solid revenge plot, classy noir tone and some killer slo-mo bullet effects. Instead, we were forced to watch an implausible plot, gunfire at random moments and, for some inexplicable reason, drug-induced demons. And then there was Mark Wahlberg. If you thought The Happening was his worst movie, you need to watch this flick – it was asPayneful as this pun.

Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time (2010)

This installment was the best of the Prince Of Persia game series. So when Disney announced the Oscar-level cast for the movie adaptation, who could blame us for being excited? What we got, though, were racing ostriches who got more screen time than the actual quest (to save the sands of time from falling into evil hands), people with English accents trying to pass themselves off as Persians and a conclusion that had nothing to do with the movie’s chain of events.

Need For Speed (2014)

Purely in terms of cars doing stuff, this movie is worth they hype. It had a bunch of cars looking good and racing but nothing else. You can say it had Braking Bad’s Aaron Paul behind it to make it go the distance but the truth is even with him, the movie was more of a collision course.