There has long been a strong connection between movies and video games, although this has traditionally come in the form of Hollywood blockbusters being licensed to developers to cash in on the popularity of the former.
While the popularity of box office hits ensured there was always demand for games based on them, by the end of the 1990’s these titles had developed a bad reputation, as they were knocked out quickly to take advantage of a movie’s buzz, yet sometimes bore little relation to the source material.
As gamers grew savvier about the general quality of these tie-ins, demand died down and link ups between movies and games became less of a big deal. A series of movies based on games releases in the early 1990’s, such as Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter, also proved to be infamous flops.
Come the turn of the millennium the trend changed, with the likes of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Resident Evil proving that movies based on popular video games could be successful. This lead to a more reciprocal relationship between movies and games; while blockbuster movies are still adapted into games, it is now far more common for movies to be based on games too.
The growth of the video game industry
The worldwide revenue from box office sales in 2016 stands at $38.3 billion, according to leading professional services organization PwC. However, various reports and studies, including an in-depth look at video games by technology research company Gartner, suggests the annual revenue generated by the video games industry now stands at over $110 billion.
The enduring success of the Call of Duty series can be seen in the record-breaking sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops when it was released in November 2010. The game took more than $650 million within five days of going on sale, a global record not just for video games, but for books and movies too.
It’s not just the size of the video games industry that has made the film industry more amenable to adapting video games to the big screen, it’s also because video games are now far more intricate. It’s not just graphics and game-play that have benefited from advances in technology; there is now more scope for plot and emotionally-engaging players in video games.
These advances created the platform on which the video games industry has grown, as they have caused gamers to develop loyalty towards particular characters, titles and series. This emotional engagement has also created the opportunity for film makes to develop complex storylines that make for movies with substance.
Games in cinemas in 2016
This year has been a good year for video games being adapted into movies. Notable video game-based movies released in 2016 include Ratchet & Clank, The Angry Birds Movie and Warcraft.
Assassin’s Creed is scheduled for release in December, making 2016 a bumper year for those who love to see their favorite video games make the transition to the silver screen.
2017 and beyond
Next year looks set to be another busy year for video games being made into the movies, with the Resident Evil series returning to the big screen in 2017 with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which, as the title suggests, is supposedly the final installment of the franchise.
While this is the only major movie based on a video game to have a confirmed release date in 2017, there are many in production that are expected to see the light of day either next year or in 2018. A sequel to The Angry Birds Movie is on the way and, when you consider the popularity of Call of Duty, it will come as no shock to learn that the franchise will be hitting cinemas soon.
Rather than handing the movie rights to Call of Duty over to an established studio, publisher Activision Blizzard has formed its own production company with the aim of creating the Call of Duty cinematic universe itself.
The success of Marvel and DC Comics in creating a universe for their characters will no doubt have influenced Activision Blizzard in its decision. The company, led by President, Chief Executive Officer and Director Bobby Kotick, has been making the Call of Duty games increasingly cinematic in recent years, using motion-capture technology to include Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, making the move into film-making a natural progression.
Other video games scheduled to be made into movies in the foreseeable future include Sonic The Hedgehog, Minecraft, 1980s franchise Dragon’s Lair and 2000s franchise Sly Cooper. A new movie based on Tomb Raider, starring Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, is scheduled for release in 2018.
Video games are an integral part of people’s lives and there is a huge level of excitement and loyalty surrounding them, which means the relationship between them and the movie world is only likely to strengthen in the future.