Video game developer EA doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to getting movies of their video game franchises off the ground. Projects like Mass Effect, Dante's Inferno, Spore, and The Sims have been floating around in development hell for years. They've recently wrapped filming for Need For Speed with DreamWorks, and that was because they finally stepped up and funded the project themselves.
Dead Space is another project that has been languishing in the nascent stage for an extended period of time (about four years now), but EA is determined to make a movie of theirs, any movie, happen, and is pushing to get the horror/sci-fi game on the big screen.
Producer has been with the project since the beginning, though no director is yet attached.
At this past weekend's Comic-Con, the publisher said this is all part of a move to take control of the development of movies based on their games, with EA opting to fund the script-writing and development stage of their movies, then partner with studios for the actual production:
We decided we have to pitch the projects as scripts. EA was batting 0 for 5 before we began funding scripts. We've had our knocks in the studio system. You don’t want to go in with just an idea and be one of 200 projects. We decided we have to change the model and go in with a script.
Still, concedes Patrick O'Brian, head of EA's film adaptation department, "you can't control every aspect unless you put up the entire budget."
The next hurdle, he explains, is creating a movie that's true to the game and fans without feeling like a rehashing of stories that have come before. The screen adaptation can't, and shouldn't, exactly reproduce the in-game action:
You would be making 'Event Horizon' or 'Alien'. I've already seen that movie. [The story needs to be] new and intriguing.
I mentioned a few months ago that video game adaptations are where comic book adaptations were a few years ago, and the reason comic book movies have gotten really good in recent years is because the comic book publishers have started taking more direct control with their film adaptations and overseeing everything from the development stage to the marketing, with Marvel the undisputed master of it. It's promising that video game developers are starting to take a page from comic book publishers and are stepping up to the plate in terms of both funding and overseeing parts of the adaptive process. With films like Dead Space and Assassin's Creed in the works, video game films might finally start to create the quality and recognition they deserve.
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