The Gears of War franchise has been critically acclaimed for its cinematic story telling and interesting back stories. When it was first announced that a movie was in production, fans were a little skeptical (as with many video game movie adaptations) and overjoyed!
What gamer wouldn’t enjoy their childhood gaming brought to the big screen for the mainstream to enjoy? Potentially, therein lies the issue.
Directors, Funding and Delays
First announced in 2007, the Gears of War movie would be an epic CGI film, similar to what we have seen with the Final Fantasy movies. The initial release date was 2010, but then it was delayed again after the script was re-written and announced for 2012. Here we are, 2016 and there’s no movie!
Part of the problem was some of the directors who were supposed to direct the film bounced to other projects, another issue was due to cut funding from $100 million to an “unspecified amount.”
2016 Gears Of War 4 Announced
Gears of War 4 was announced this year and has brought fans out from the shadows once more! With a mysterious trailer and a new cast of characters, as well as being run on the new Unreal Engine 4, Gears of War 4 is looking to take a big spot light this year.
Possibly another factor which may have ultimately sealed the deal with the movie is the new Gears of War game, which has social media buzzing right now! As a video game, Gears of War seems to be doing just fine and we’ll see how successful the launch is when it comes out this October.
Why Do Video Game Movies Have So Much Problems?
We’ve seen this with the cancellation of the Bioshock movie and Halo movie, and rumors about Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect movies! As video games, they were incredible, but why is it so hard to get a video game movie off the ground?
One problem which was brought up at the very beginning of the article was the problem with bringing a video game movie into the “mainstream” spot light.
Video Games Are NOT Mainstream Material
Video games are great niche story telling devices for a select group of the population. Admittedly, with a title such as Gears of
Gore War, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Gears has a specific, niche audience.
A video game can sell for $60, having a niche audience is no problem! However, when the average price of a movie ticket ranges anywhere from $3 – $18, there’s a huge gap in terms of revenue per customer.
Ideally, the only way to make up for that revenue is to bring in more people to watch the movie, and this might mean rewriting the script to appeal to those who have never heard of Gears of War before and are not necessarily the same audience as the video game franchise. This is evident when considering that children’s movies are some of the highest grossing movies out there.
Adapting a niche video game into a mainstream film could create a host of problems, such as misalignment with the creator’s vision for the movie or even misalignment with what the fans are expecting. But some of the greatest video game stories come from such niche franchises!
The reason the Final Fantasy movies seem to have worked out so well is largely due to the fact that a franchise like Final Fantasy is highly recognizable in the Asian market, it might not be as “niche” as video games are in America. This is also obvious when comparing the movie’s success overseas, as opposed to here in America, where Final Fantasy, and JRPG’s in general, are not widely recognized as mainstream gaming.
(Good) Video Game Movies Doomed Forever?
Not necessarily. Video games sure to make great short films and short videos for some of the biggest YouTuber’s around, like FreddieW and CorridorDigital. We have also witnessed in recent years, the onset of crowdfunding and the power that fan funding has brought to unheard of industries.
So it is not entirely impossible for video game movies to become more and more likely if these trends continue. However, in regards to the often, “gate keeping” nature of the Hollywood film industry, we may need to see some sort of break or reform in that industry in order to bring forward better movies. or video game films.
The Hollywood film industry has not brought about the most “inspiring” films in recent years, and this is primarily due to the “play it safe” attitude studios have. Why branch out? Why risk making an original masterpiece or a niche legend when studios can pump out remakes or adaptations of franchises that already have large, built in followings such as super hero movies?
How many drawn out, predictable, cliche’ super hero movies are going to be released before the Hollywood film industry crumbles?
It would be apparent that video games in general should rise to a higher mainstream level first in order to receive the funding, backing, and following necessary for a big budget movie. With the rise of e-Sports even landing spots of TV channels, video games are becoming more and more mainstream to the general public, however it is still not at that level of recognition, at least in the mind’s of these studios, to justify a $100 million movie budget!
The future is always bright, and perhaps the success of Gears 4 could revive the movie project, time can only tell.