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There’s a reason Hollywood relies so heavily on the gaming world for film ideas. While the hit to miss ratio skews towards misses, when a game-based film hits, it hits big.
For example, Paramount made over $430 million by having Angelina Jolie shimmy into Lara Croft’s short-shorts in 2001 and 2003. And it made another $1.5 billion from films based on the “Transformers.”
But some of the board- and video games (and toys) that studios are tapping for upcoming films are just downright baffling.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 15 Oct 2009
As far as plotlines go, this arcade classic from Atari doesn’t have much of one: Shoot space rocks, then shoot some more. Every now and then, you got to shoot a flying saucer. But four studios were vying for the rights to the game. Universal won the battle and has enlisted one of the producers of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” to steer the film.
Copies sold: N/A
Universal plans to bring the Peppermint Forest and Molasses Swamp to life, though it hasn’t yet set a release date for the film. Things start to make a little more sense when you hear the director of Disney’s “Enchanted” and the writer of "Tropic Thunder" and "Madagascar 2" are on board to help steer the film.
Copies sold: N/A
Activision-Blizzard’s (ATVI) popular online game has already secured Spider Man’s Sam Raimi to direct and the screenwriter of “Saving Private Ryan” to pen the script. The game has a subscriber base that’s larger than the population of Greece, so there’s a built-in audience– but Warner Bros (TWX) needs to get the story perfect or it could have an ugly backlash on its hands.
Copies sold: 12+ million
This 3D picture viewer from Mattel (MAT) has been around since 1939, hosting everything from film stills to pictures of tourist sites and animals. How it will factor into a film remains a mystery. Dreamworks is exploring the idea, with a story it says will be reminiscent of films such as "The Goonies" and "Young Sherlock Holmes" – not that that’s much help.
Units sold: N/A – though over 1.5 billion viewing disks have been produced
At least “Asteroids” has lasers. Pac Man involves an eternally hungry wedge that’s being chased around by a quartet of ghosts. Crystal Sky Pictures, which is also making films based on the “Castlevania” and “Tekken” franchises, secured financing for this project last year, but hasn’t spoken of it since.
Copies sold: N/A
When your source material is a gel-filled action figure wearing a Speedo, you can safely assume the ensuing film is going to be a comedy. Due out next April, this Universal project was scripted by the writer of “Bruce Almighty”. It’s not the first time Armstrong has tried to stretch onto the big screen. Disney (DIS) tried to convert the toy in 1998, but gave up.
Units sold: N/A
Electronic Arts’ (ERTS) multi-genre game was nicknamed “Sim-everything” – taking characters from the single cell stage to conquering the galaxy. The hook of the game was letting players design their own creatures and habitats. Twentieth Century Fox and “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge may have trouble transferring that to the big screen.
Copies sold: Over 2 million
Horror producer Platinum Dunes (owned by Michael Bay) plans to transform the sometimes-controversial Hasbro (HAS) game that some people believe can be used to talk with the dead. The company is behind next year’s remake of “Nightmare on Elm Street” so it knows horror, but can it get past the clichés that go with the game to create something that draws audiences?
Units sold: N/A
Like “Spore,” the appeal of “The Sims” is in customizing your world. The film’s producer has said that having infinite power (as “Sims” players do) will be central to the film’s theme – as will the dangers of wish fulfillment. Twentieth Century Fox will be releasing this one as well.
Copies sold: Over 104 million
This might be the easiest game to imagine a big screen adaptation of, given its wartime themes. Peter Berg, director of “Hancock,” will direct the Universal-backed film, with a focus on a five-ship fleet caught in an intense battle. It will hit theaters next summer.
Copies sold: over 100 million