The gaming industry has become one of the fastest-growing markets, so why are they being converted to the big screen?
Worth over $100 billion, the gaming market has skyrocketed, and what better way to make even more money than to turn to film? However, in most cases, these games probably would have been better off staying as a game. When the Super Mario Bros film hit cinemas in 1993, directors were expecting it to be a sure fire hit, following the footsteps of the ever-popular game, but how wrong they were. The movie scored a mere 4.0/10 on IMDB, and with a budget of $48 million, made no return in the box office.
This type of filmmaking started badly and hasn’t excelled in any way since.
Experts have tried to figure out why these films fail miserably at the box office. Kirk Kjeldsen, assistant professor of the cinema administration at the School of Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia, told USA Today that video games and film are two completely different art forms and should be kept separate.
“They’re completely different animals,” Mr Kjeldsen said, explaining that in order to transform the two art forms and construct a feature film you should take the best parts of the game and discard the rest.
Gordon Moyes, games design convenor at Griffith University in Queensland, told The Newsroom that filmmakers need to take extra care in deciding if a game could be a successful film.
“Typically, games have well-defined characters and worlds, but a new story needs to be created that can be told linearly, that can take a large audience on a journey simultaneously,” Mr Moyes said.
“Respecting the original game, its message, and its audience is also important.”
This type of filmmaking did not get any better with the 2002 film Resident Evil, which only scored a measly 4.5/10 on Rotten Tomatoes with a $33 million budget, again, barely making any box office return. So if these films aren’t making a return, why do filmmakers keep on attempting to create the world of the game into a feature film for a larger audience to see?
“More and more now, we are seeing film directors who grew up enjoying video games, who understand the medium, who feel like they could add something to the universe that the game takes place in,” Mr Moyes said.
“On the business side, games often come with large, devoted fan bases, and a built-in audience can be really compelling to this who would finance film production.”
These films fail at the box office for many reasons. Mr Moyes explains his own reasoning as to why they do so poorly at the box office.
“The unsuccessful movie adaptations have tended to suffer from misunderstanding what makes the game great to it original audience, whilst not offering a compelling viewing experience to the public otherwise unfamiliar with the game.” he said.
Angry Birds is the latest hit game to be under construction for film transition; it’s due to flock into cinemas in Australia next year. The game has been widely successful since its inception six years ago, having been downloaded over 300 million times. Mr Moyes explained that with the success that Angry Birds has already had so far, it has all the attributes to make a very successful film if done correctly.
“Angry Birds is such a well-known franchise, with such well defined and interesting characters, that it has every opportunity to be a successful film,” Mr Moyes said. “From the movie trailer, we can see that the characters and humorous style has been well captured, with the opportunity taken to develop the backstory of the Angry Birds universe.” – Ashleigh Stevenson
Top image of Angry Birds Android gameplay by Jessica Heckley.