What We Can Expect In The Future From Video Game To Movie Adaptations

Things are looking up

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For years, we’ve seen popular films turned into video games, so it was only natural that the opposite would eventually happen. While there has been some game to movie/tv releases sprinkled in over the decades, the past few years have seen an increased spike in classic games making their way onto both the big and small screens.

However, it hasn’t always exactly been smooth sailing. There have been some criticisms over the years of many adaptations, so here's a closer look at some of the struggles these adaptations have had in the past and what we can expect from them in the future.

One of the earliest video game to movie adaptations was Super Mario Bros., which hit the big screen in 1993. The film starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the famed Mario Brothers and was based on the video game series up to that point.

All in all, the movie received negative reviews from critics (a 24% on Rotten Tomatoes). It didn’t even come close to breaking even at the box office (the budget was roughly $42-48 million and only grossed $20.9 million). Why did the film perform so poorly despite the Super Mario games’ major success over the years?

It was poorly written, for starters, with some criticizing the film for its lack of a storyline and others believing that while the cast of the film was comprised of generally great actors, they didn’t quite capture the personality of the Mario characters. Other adaptations such as Street Fighter (1994) and Mortal Kombat (1995) received similar reviews, with the latter being described as “laughably bad.”

Another reason for the negative reviews could have been choosing to go with live-action films instead of animated ones. These films were released in the mid to late 1990s, and that was around the time that we began to see the emergence of widely successful animated films such as The Lion King, Toy Story, and A Goofy Movie. These game to movie adaptations might have done better in animation form as the animations would have given these movies a more “video game” feel. In turn, the video game characters (such as Mario) might have been better represented during that time as well.

In the years following the 1990s, the video game to film adaptations continued to be released with the same outcome (poor ratings and negative reviews). Movies like Max Payne and Prince of Persia were considered some of the worst entries in this entire genre.

Recently though, we've witnessed the tide slowly changing.

Detective Pikachu (2019) and Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) both received the best reviews (68% and 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively) in movie adaptation history, indicating an upward trend. So what could be the reason for that interest?

To start, interest in gaming is at an all-time high, with the fan bases for specific games growing exponentially. Technology has also improved significantly since the 1990s, meaning that these films are now more capable of making these adaptations look and feel better. To go along with the movie remakes, we will eventually be seeing more tv adaptations (which have suffered a similar fate of poor ratings and cancellations).

So what does the future hold?

Well, for starters, the upcoming Uncharted movie has a lot of people excited. Scheduled for a July 2021 release, the film will star Tom Holland as Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as his mentor Victor Sullivan. The Last of Us is being developed by Craig Mazin (creator of the critically acclaimed Chernobyl mini-series) for HBO and has many people intrigued. 

Other adaptations such as Minecraft, Monster Hunter, and another Mortal Kombat are also in the works.

Time will tell if these games to movie/tv adaptations will be successful; however, the recent signs point to a yes. That said, these films will have to be top-tier in every level in order to please the dedicated fan bases these video games have established over the years (and fans are most certainly are picky). If done right, we could definitely see that upward tick continue. 

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