When Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper agreed to star in 1993's atrocious adaptation of Nintendo's most beloved franchise, they couldn't possibly have predicted the avalanche of sub-par film making that it would inspire. After Super Mario Bros. hit theaters, Hollywood studios started lining up to turn popular video games into vacuous action movies. The result is 20 years worth of franchise-damaging garbage whose only purpose is to fill wire baskets at used DVD stores.
But Hollywood's infatuation with unwatchable, game-based movies might be in its twilight years, because the people who make these games are finally getting tired of seeing their all of their work distilled into 90 minutes of high kicks and explosions. Ken Levine, for example, recently pulled the plug on a BioShock Movie after the budget was slashed and Gore Verbinski stepped down from the director's chair. Unlike Super Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat, BioShock had the potential for greatness on the silver screen, but thankfully Levine isn't interested in dragging his franchise through the mud just to get an easy payday.
Tomb Raider, on the other hand, will be getting a Hollywood reboot, but the script is reportedly based on the most recent, and most intelligent, title rather than Angelina Jolie's previous misadventures. So, even if the film isn't stellar, at least it probably won't be another excuse to watch a big breasted woman wear spandex and shoot automatic weapons, which is probably a step in the right direction for the film industry.
Plus, Defiance has proven that video games and televisions can have a successful marriage without actually stepping on each other's toes. So, it was only a matter of time until some entrepreneurial producer found a way to tie film and video games together in a similar fashion. THQ's former Executive Vice President, Danny Bilson, has become just the man for the job with his new semi-secret project. Bilson, along with Lloyd Levin—who produced Hellboy, Watchmen, and the Tomb Raider films—are reportedly "very close" to a launching a web-based film/game crossover.
I'll let Bilson explain:
"So Lloyd and I got together and we said let's make micro-budget film series for streaming, because the hardware now enables us to play the game and watch the film on the same device. And let's launch let's say three episodes a year - these are two-hour episodes - and in-between, thank you Telltale Games, we will do a narrative of three or four chapters, but we're going to go one step up, we're going to add a bunch of different features and a little bit more interactivity."
"And let's take the fan from the film through three chapters of the game right into the next film. We've got the writers of the film writing the game narrative. We've got the actor's likeness, voice, and the players - fans - can participate in the narrative, up to a point, and then rejoin the film narrative and it's all delivered on the same devices: the PC, the pads or any digital device."
Now, as much as I would like to think that this is going to be a heroic example of a man who loves video games creating a piece of crossover art, I'm hesitant. Bilson is the guy who left THQ financially crippled, and hammered out pointless television shows like The Flash and Viper in the 90's. Though, I do hope that he's learned his lesson, because there's obviously a need for more gaming-related entertainment, and I'm getting tired of watching Hollywood ruin all of my favorite franchises.
Either way, the industry is definitely moving in a positive direction. Producers are actually taking their cues from the gamers themselves rather than churning out generic shlock. There are even plans for an EVE Online television series that's based on actual player experiences, and that would never have been possible a decade ago.
Date: May 9, 2013