In the next 8 months, we have a grand total of 5 video game movies being released. The list includes 2 big budget adaptions (Warcraft, Assassins's Creed), two animated kid's films (Ratchet and Clank, Slycooper) and one soulless cash grab (Angry Birds).
These sort of movies seem to be an inevitability every year, but each time another goes into production, everyone seems to be asking the same question, Why? Sure, studios are always desperate for franchise material, but with the awful reputation that video games movies have made for themselves, why would so many stoop so low?
Well, with just a little big of digging the answer become very clear. No, it's not some complicated conspiracy, it's much simpler than that. Yes, despite the awful reputation video game movies have, they have actually turned out pretty well for Hollywood, in a pure box office sense.
Looking at all the video game films released since 1980, less than 25% of them have actually been bombs. That's a 75% success rate, and if that doesn't sound that high to you, well superhero movies only have a 66% success rate, and Hollywood has definitely not stopped making them.
Looking past some of the well-known failures, like Doom or Prince of Persia, this genre has given us some hugely profitable movies, like Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil, just to name a few. All of these films more than doubled their production budgets, and ranked among the highest domestic grosses of their respective years.
Talking of Resident Evil, it represents an incredibly successful franchise that has produced over 5 profitable installments, with a 6th on the way next year. Except for the first film, every single Resident Evil movie has opened #1. If that doesn't prove their box-office power, nothing will.
Yes, it's true that these films have a terrible critical history (the highest Rotten Tomatoes score for any of them is 44%), but that never stopped Hollywood before, look at the Transformers franchise. Video game movies may mostly be terrible, but for the Hollywood they are anything but. They are a genre of filmmaking that proved successful in the past and represent an almost surefire way to make money.
So the next time you see a video game adaptation being greenlight, remember that it's not because Hollywood is insane and desperate for a franchise, but because it's a well thought out financial move.
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