It's been said before and it will be said again: just because something makes a fantastic video game does not mean it will make a fantastic movie. If you need proof, just look at the Super Mario Bros. movie — but at this point, it should be common sense. Games are interactive. Movies are passive. Game storylines rely on players becoming any given character, while a film maintains distance between the characters and the audience.
That said, not all video game movies are awful. There have been a handful of good (okay, maybe not good, but decent) films based on iconic game properties over the years, like the 1995 Mortal Kombat film or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie. But for the most part, game movies have a long, depressing history. Even our fantasy video game movies are better than the reality.
That might change soon. It seems like there are more video game adaptations in development than ever before (including one based on Tetris) — and better yet, the creators of the games seem to be much more involved in the movie-making process than in the past.
That could lead to films that are not only true to the source material, but also better films all around. After all, nobody understands a game franchise like those who helped birth it.
Here's our list of some game movies currently in development that have solid potential, followed by a master list of all the video game films we know about.
Angry Birds (July 16, 2016)
Angry Birds, the mobile game in which players launch birds to destroys forts made by evil pigs, doesn't seem like the most obvious game for a film adaptation. It is, however, a no-brainer for film executives. The reason game adaptations are made in the first place is because they're existing names, and if people already know the property, it has a better chance of succeeding over a new franchise. With that in mind, there is a ton of talent involved with the Angry Birds film.
Co-directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly have some great work on their resumes, like Frozen and The Iron Giant — so even though this is their directorial debut, it's hard not to feel like they know what they're doing.
Then there are the voice actors who will star in the film, including Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses), Bill Hader (Inside Out) and Danny McBride (Pineapple Express). Those are some huge names. Hopefully it all translates to a fun family film.
Assassin's Creed (2016)
Ubisoft's biggest game franchise will be leading the publisher's charge into the world of film, and it's got one top-notch actor in the title role. Michael Fassbender, now perhaps most well-known for his role as a young Magneto in X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past, will be playing the lead character... or characters.
Since this is Assassin's Creed we're talking about, Fassbender is expected to play both a modern-day character and an ancient Assassin (or Assassins), though which ancestors Fassbender will be bringing to life isn't yet known.
Five Nights at Freddy's (TBD)
Low-budget, found-footage horror movies became all the rage when film studios learned they could make millions upon millions of dollars for almost no cost. It makes perfect sense for Five Nights at Freddy's to get the movie treatment, then, considering that it's basically the video-game equivalent of Paranormal Activity. Players control a lone security guard who watches various TV monitors in an abandoned, fictional version of a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant that just so happens to be haunted by killer animatronic animals.
Director Gil Kenan has stressed his desire to keep the film's special effects practical, with real animatronics set to scare audiences. He is also bringing game creator Scott Cawthon on board for the project, which should ensure that the film stays close to Cawthon's unsettling source material.
The Last of Us (2016)
One of the most critically acclaimed and emotionally gut-wrenching games of the last decade is set to become a movie. It seems unlikely that the film will be able to improve upon what many consider to be a near-perfect game, but there's hope to be found in the fact that game director Neil Druckman himself will be bringing his game vision to life onscreen. Add the idea of Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones' Arya) playing Ellie and you just might have a recipe for the best video game movie to date.
Mass Effect (TBD)
Poor Mass Effect. The much-loved sci-fi franchise from Bioware went out on a sour note with Mass Effect 3's controversial ending — but the potential for a blockbuster space opera franchise is definitely there. Cool alien races, killer robots and lots of spaceships could make Mass Effect the next Star Wars... if it ever gets off the ground.
The movie is still early in development, but Legendary Pictures – the same studio that brought the world The Dark Knight Trilogy, Godzilla and 300 – is set to bring Bioware's creation to life. The game's charm could be lost in translation, considering that Mass Effect is all about making difficult choices — but there is still plenty of room for a great film.
There is no bigger game franchise today than Minecraft, which makes it an obvious choice for the movie treatment. One might think adapting Minecraft – a game about block characters building blocky creations (and occasionally mining to hell and back) – would be a challenge, but Warner Bros. has proved that building block films can work, with the huge success of The Lego Movie.
That's probably why Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the Minecraft movie too, and then swiftly attached Lego Movie producer Roy Lee to the project. What will it be about? Who knows, but given that Minecraft is known for providing players with the tools to make literally anything, they'll surely come up with something.
Mortal Kombat (TBD)
A 2012 Mortal Kombat webseries proved that the iconic fight game series still has potential, following the success of the original Mortal Kombat film back in 1995. The film has been in the works for a while now, but Warner Bros. recently announced that James Wan is set to direct the film. Considering that the Wan-directed Furious 5 recently became the fifth highest grossing movie of all time, that's definitely a good sign.
There is a ton of potential here for a brutal, R-rated martial arts film, if Warner Bros. will allow the franchise's over-the-top and bloody personality to take center stage.
Ratchet and Clank (April 29, 2016)
The wrench-wielding Lombax Ratchet and his metallic friend Clank have starred in a number of hilarious, action-packed and family-friendly platforming games on Sony's PlatStation consoles over the years, and the game's colorful cast of characters is ripe for a big-screen animated picture. The teaser trailer for the project shows promise, if nothing else, but even more promising is the team behind the movie.
Ratchet and Clank developer Insomniac Games has been heavily involved in the movie, with Insomniac writer T.J. Fixman even writing the film's story. The inclusion of longtime Ratchet voice actor James Arnold Taylor is another sign that this movie is serious about adapting the game in the best way possible.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)
It's a little strange that Resident Evil has become one of the few video-game-to-film success stories. Even though the movies aren't particularly great, the film franchise (which is very, very loosely based on the video game series) is set to receive its fifth sequel in the form of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. It's really a testament to franchise star Milla Jovovich that the series has gone on this long, as her action-hero chops and looks have helped create a strong fanbase.
Will this series ever end? The subtitle for the upcoming film makes it seem like this might be the last installment, but we'll believe it when we see it... err, don't see it.
Sly Cooper (2016)
Another Sony platformer that's getting the animated film treatment, we don't know quite as much about the Sly Cooper movie as we do Ratchet and Clank. Blockade Entertainment is the studio behind both of these adaptions, so if Ratchet and Clank is good, expect this one to be too. The game revolves around a team of anthropomorphic animal thieves who steal from other criminals.
It's a solid premise that was well-received in game form, and judging from the film's teaser trailer, much of the same charm looks to have been preserved in translation.
The video game equivalent of Indiana Jones (sorry, Tomb Raider), Uncharted – from developer Naughty Dog – seems like the perfect summer blockbuster. That sadly hasn't happened yet. Directors and writers have continually joined and left this project over the last several years, making the film's fate uncertain. It is, however, one of Sony's biggest and best game franchises, and it doesn't look like Sony will be giving up on the film anytime soon. If the adaptation of Naughty Dog's other game franchise, The Last of Us, proves profitable, expect Uncharted to receive the fast track.
Warcraft (June 10, 2016)
World of Warcraft is the most popular MMO of all time, with millions of players having joined Blizzard's fantasy world of Azeroth in the past decade. It's a monumental task to adapt this game series to film, but director Duncan Jones looks to have done just that. Heavy on CGI characters, huge high-fantasy landscapes and sprawling battles, Legendary Pictures seems confident that it has a winner on its hands.
The film is set to finally release — smack-dab at the start of next summer, against a number of other blockbusters. We have yet to see an official trailer for the movie, but buzz from footage shown at Comic-Con over the last several years has been mostly positive.
Other Game Movies In Various Forms Of Development
Devil May Cry
God of War
Kane & Lynch
Metal Gear Solid