Filmmakers who adapt video games don’t have to be fans – but it helps
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The film industry is making more video game adaptations than ever before, and the dynamics of media forms have changed. At GamesBeat Summit 2022, three panelists (moderated by Alexandra Del Rosario of Deadline Hollywood) discussed the topic of transmedia and the future of game franchises, particularly in film and television.
Film adaptations of video games have had a thorny history. At one time, it was kind of a mark of pride for a game to get a film adaptation, but gamers (and moviegoers in general) also knew they couldn’t expect them to. be good. David Stelzer, director of Unreal Engine Games Business and one of the panelists, said the often-mocked quality of game-to-movie adaptations stems from the fact that the game creators themselves don’t have much control.
“The power, for a long time, was movie studios and mainstream media companies saying, ‘Yeah, this isn’t your space. You can grant us a license for these rights. Most people don’t realize that once the game company dropped that, in the old days, they had no say in that project anymore,” Stelzer said. “You started seeing the power switch. The intellectual property owners wanted to retain the rights and control that fate.”
Now, the filmmakers are trying harder to meet the games on their own terms and stick to the source material. Carter Swan, Senior Producer at PlayStation Productions, said, “I don’t always need a fan of video games to adapt a game, but I need someone who understands what makes the game great, what what makes the characters great and what makes fans love them. If they can figure that out, I can help them not make canonical mistakes. This part is easy. That’s the spirit of it.
Hollywood is full of players
The film industry has recently collapsed in acquiring the film rights to video games. As of last report, we are getting adaptations of several games including Mario, Minecraft, Borderlands, It Takes Two and others. Dmitri Johnson, CEO of dj2 Entertainment, said the key is to find games that translate well into movies.
“You are stepping into real history [of the game] and what happens,” Johnson said. “You can see how the end result of the adaptation is something my mom might see on HBO or Amazon or Netflix, watch the whole thing and go, ‘Wait, is that based on a game? As much as we can, that’s the goal.
Panelists also noted that the rise of television has created several new adaptation options. Swan noted that a TV show may be a better format for some adaptations. “Instead of doing it in 2 hours, you can do it in 10. You don’t have to lose that much, and you can respect and honor the whole story a lot more. . . I think it gives us a real platform to tell the stories in a much better way. He also noted that the plethora of streaming services multiplies the platforms on which to tell video game stories.
Johnson noted, “We have a generation of filmmakers and executives who grew up on games like we did. Twenty years ago, you were selling people why games are this bastard son-in-law. Today, you barely get the name before someone says, “Oh yeah, I played that.”
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