Movie directors have taken inspiration from the gaming industry for a few decades now. It’s understandable given the creativity of programmers and the popularity of the products they create. Take, for example, Super Mario Bros. Nintendo’s 1985 classic is still in the top 10 biggest-selling video games of all time with over 58 million copies sold. Given that Mario has become such an iconic character, it’s hardly surprising Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel jumped at the chance to direct Super Mario Bros: The Movie.

Unfortunately for the husband-and-wife team, the movie was a financial flop. Yes, it has a certain cult following, but it cost over $45 million to make and grossed less than $40 million at the box office. Other video game movies have suffered the same fate. From Doom and House of Dead to Street Fighter, there have been countless movies that have failed to capitalize on the popularity of their gaming counterparts.

In many ways, this isn’t surprising. Hollywood’s graveyard of flops is littered with movies that thought they could piggyback off something else. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We know that some video game movies have done well at the box office. The Hitman franchise, for example, has enjoyed a modicum of success. Although sequels have suffered slightly from a sense of apathy from audiences, 2008 original has grossed over $100 million worldwide.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie, grossed over $273 million and subsequent offerings did just as well.

Video Game Movies Need a Story to Work With

One of the reasons some video game movies flop and others hit could be down to the underlying premise. Mario, Doom, and Street Fighter don’t have deep storylines. They’re platform, survival, and fighting games. In contrast, action games such as Tomb Raider and Hitman have underlying stories that directors can work with to create a watchable movie. This point becomes even more pronounced when you look at modern online offerings. Free action games combine in-depth storylines with sharp graphics and complex free-roaming structures.

Indeed, a modern action game only can see you leading a team of fantasy warriors in a war against the Dark Lord Siroth or crossing wastelands known as the Eastern Marches looking for vengeance. The fact that action games are multidimensional, multifaceted offerings, makes them much easier to convert into a screenplay and, in turn, a movie. When you look at the reasons Super Mario or Street Fighter flopped as movies, it’s because they’re fairly superficial in terms of plot and narrative.

They did have stories, but they didn’t have enough twists and turns for a movie. Those games were all about fast-paced action, reactions, and timing. Those qualities all help to create a great game, but they don’t translate to the big screen. This is the main reason why video game movies used to be bad and now they’re OK. We’re not saying modern video game movies are masterpieces. However, directors have a lot more to work with because modern action games have more elements to them. Based on this theory, we may get to a point where we go from OK video game movies to great ones. However, that depends on how much video games evolve over the next few decades.

Similar Posts