Does Hollywood Finally Understand Video Games?
Video Games have always been a major source of entertainment for people. They have grown over the decades to become a major force in the entertainment property. People compete for major money like it is a sport and Hollywood has tried to make movies over the years. However, it hasn’t been in recent years that people have been giving Video Game movie respect.
First, we are going to look at why certain movies didn’t work and see what has changed over the years.
Does Hollywood Finally Understand Video Games?
Where Did It Begin?
Super Mario Bros was the first live-action video game movie made. It came off the back of the mega success of the Mario game franchise. However, it was received horrendously, and the two leads Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo hate the final product. But why didn’t it work?
First, comes the challenge of turning a 2D platform game into a live-action movie. That is a massive question that doesn’t seem like an easy answer. Here, is the biggest problem with adapting a game. It was basically just using the characters from the popular franchise and sticking them in a Total Recall rip-off underworld. Needless to say, we never got a sequel and it has taken 30 years before Hollywood attempted to bring us a new Mario movie.
The Fighting Era
Hollywood looks to dive into another 2D set of games. This time trimming down the story to focus on the most popular elements of the games, the fighting games. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat were the two picked. The two movies have a combined budget of $55 Million and went on to make over $220 Million worldwide. This proved that the money behind the idea could easily move forward. Mortal Kombat did go on to receive the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of the early video game era too.
Money Became a Game Changer
After Wing Commander lost a large amount of money, it took two more years before we got another Video Game movie. Paramount and Sony turned to two of the biggest and most popular franchises, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy and Resident Evil. Final Fantasy The Spirits Within was the first American animated movie and didn’t make money. This stopped animated movies for years to come.
Meanwhile, Lara Croft Tomb Raider proved that a movie with over $100 Million budget can make a massive profit. Elsewhere, Resident Evil made a massive profit from becoming the biggest franchise to step into the movies.
A False Dawn
Hollywood likes to grab onto money-making ideas quickly and financially Resident Evil and Tomb Raider were doing very well. Other franchises were targeted and failed to impress. House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne were the first three examples. Director Uwe Boll gave us these three movies with a combined Rotton Tomatoes score of 8%. Despite House of the Dead breaking even, the other two were big losses throwing away their $25 Million budgets.
It wasn’t only these three movies, Doom failed to make money on its massive budget and DOA: Dead or Alive couldn’t recapture the fighting genre magic. Silent Hill managed to double its budget by using an atmospheric idea to move the story forward being one of my personal favourites.
20th Century Fox’s 5-Year Run
2007 gave 20th Century Fox their first success in a major run of movies, Hitman. However, this was just another chance for Uwe Boll to take advantage of the big studio with In the Name of the King A Dungeon Siege Tale and Far Cry losing massive amounts of money. 2008 gave Oscar Nominee Mark Wahlberg his first step into the video game world in Max Payne which did double its budget and have a unique look. However, Street Fighter The Legend of Chun-Li failed to impress.
The Billion-Dollar Franchise
Like them or not, the Resident Evil movies have gone on to become a franchise that has made over a billion dollars at the box office. The creation of Alice’s side of the story has always brought in $100 million despite wildly getting panned by the critics and even fans. This success seems to be what most of the other movies are so desperate to recreate.
The success of the Resident Evil live-action movie opened to door to a return to animated movies. Three animated movies, Degeneration, Damnation and Vendetta focused more on the franchise’s popular characters. They received positive reviews despite not getting a full cinema release.
The 2010 Box Office Boom
In 2010 Hollywood studios decided to take advantage of the new era of video games. They had bigger stories that could translate to film easier. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Need for Speed, Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed and Rampage joined in the big franchise releases. Along with Resident Evil and Silent Hill sequels and the first set of reboots, Hitman: Agent 47 and Tomb Raider. Only two of these movies didn’t go on to make well over $200 Million or more at the box office.
It seems Hollywood knows of the promote their movies, but they still struggle to get the critical response they want. The scores are stronger, but there isn’t a single fresh review yet in the live-action series of video games. One of the big things to notice is that we only get a maximum of two video game movies a year now.
The First Positive Rotton Tomato Scores
2019 is the first year a Video Game movie received a positive Rotton Tomato score. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu got a score of 68% which paved the way for others too. The two Sonic the Hedgehog movies delivered on this too.
However, the highest score was given to Werewolves Within, with an 86% despite not doing well in the Box Office side of things.
The Covid Era
During the Covid pandemic, we did get a couple of movies, Monser Hunter and Uncharted. Along with reboots of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City. It is difficult to judge how the true box office scores as so many countries had limited releases and the release model evolved too. While they didn’t receive the strongest Tomatoes scores, they are strong than many of the previous years.
The Television Era
Television series have opened up the option to explore the massive open worlds created. Netflix did take advantage of this idea with Castlevania getting four animated seasons. However, it is HBO Max that gave us The Last of Us the world is talking about. It took the most popular games and turned them into a massively popular series capturing the magic of the show. The success of this series has already got people discussing awards, which opens a new door for the franchise.
The future of video game movies or television series is looking exceptionally bright. With the stumbling superhero franchise, it could be time for a new boom to take over. The upcoming Super Mario Bros could easily become the first billion-dollar video game movie. We are due two more movies this year in Gran Turismo which seems like a more complicated game to adapt. Borderlands is also due out this year and has a massive follow and pulled in some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
The future does look incredibly bright for video game adaptions and we can only hope we continue to see fans of the games getting involved in making the entertainment. There has been a growing understanding that the stories in video games are much deeper. They have brought people together and now that Hollywood finally understands this. We have plenty to work with going forward. I believe Hollywood finally understand video games now.