One Limb Left: Are Movie Adaptations of Video Games Necessary?

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When it comes to movie adaptations of video games they have been more of a miss than a hit.  While watching the Tomb Raider reboot last week, a reoccurring thought popped into my head.  Are movie adaptations of video games necessary, at least in this day and age?  For the longest time, I have been someone who believes as graphics and cinematics in games improve, the need for big screen adaptations becomes less of a necessity.

Especially when you figure in the financial figures.  2002’s Resident Evil cost Sony/Screen Gems $33 million to make and it did make $40.1 million domestically.  But for every rare success, there are a bunch of failures.  In 1993, Buena Vista spent $48 million to make Super Mario Bros., which only made $20.9 million domestically in box office revenue.

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The reason why I mention Super Mario Bros. is that it was the first ever major adaptation of a video game.  Even though it was a mess of a film, it hasn’t stopped studios from trying to find success.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of it over recent years.  Warcraft only made $47.3 million back of its $160 million budget.

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Assassin’s Creed‘s ticket sales only topped $54.6 million, not even half of its $125 million budget.  But even with those types of failures why do movie studios still adapt video games for the big screen?  There are two reasons why I think they do.  The first reason is Hollywood is a cinematic version of a casino.

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Every greenlighting of a video game-based movie is another multimillion-dollar hand of Blackjack.  Each one carrying hopes of a possible franchise.  The second reason for these movies has ties to the developers themselves.  They’re a way to get people to play their games.

Like with book adaptations, there are people who will say to their friends and loved ones while leaving the theater “The original version is better than the movie”.  This can cause intrigue in people who want to test that theory out for themselves.  While I’ve played both Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, having to see the reboot for my review made me want to replay both of them (and I did).

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Part of the reason being for research and comparison purposes, the other part being they’re both really great games.  No matter my thoughts on the movie, I can always go back to the games.  Rampage is a movie I’m actually looking forward to.  Do I expect it to be great or even good?  Not really.

But it’s a movie based on a video game with little to no story.  Allowing for creativity to flow no matter how ridiculous it gets.  The 1995 version of Mortal Kombat is one of my favorite adaptations.  Its fight choreography was wonderful, sets were designed well, certain lines were memorable, and let’s not forget the soundtrack.

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Nintendo is even trying again with Mario, and Sonic the Hedgehog is getting his own movie in 2019.  So are video game movies necessary going forward?  While they might seem like unnecessary productions in the eyes of those who play them, we as gamers must remember one thing.  Not everyone has a video game console, and if a movie adaptation is bad, we can always look to a game’s polygon beginnings to properly re-introduce others to the worlds we fell in love with, and the ones Hollywood tries to bring to life.

As I said at the beginning of the article, for the longest time, I have been someone who believes as graphics and cinematics in games improve, the need for big screen adaptations becomes less of a necessity.  While part of me will always think that way because I’m an avid gamer, in writing this I now see how they do carry some benefits and are necessary to a certain extent.