In the years since Den of Geek first sprung into existence, we’ve consistently kept an eye on the video games that have been touted for the big screen treatment. We’ve tried to list them all in a big article a few times before, and it feels like the time has come to pull a new version together.
Out of the hundreds of thousands of films in the world currently in development, a large number of them serve as adaptations for (mostly) successful video games and video game franchises. Some have been seen on our screens before either via a previous adaptation or television series, while some are just getting their first shot on the big screen.
Whichever category they fall into, they still have to navigate their way through the difficult world of filmmaking, with many of them inevitably forever damned to development hell. The following are just a few of these adaptations hoping to someday become a success.
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Altered Beast – TBA
Variety reports that Stories International (Sega’s production arm) and studio Circle of Confusion will collaboratively adapt the fantasy arcade action game Altered Beast.
Angry Birds 2 – September 20, 2019
Despite the fact that it’s an Angry Birds movie, the first movie made back its $73 million production budget and then some, with a $346.9 million take globally. Which means that Roxio Entertainment has greenlit a sequel, according to Wall Street Journal. God help us.
Assassin’s Creed 2 – TBA
The first film hadn’t even come out yet, when Ubisoft and New Regency announced that work was already underway on Assassin’s Creed 2.
The sequel will see Michael Fassbender back on board in the starring role, and presumably he’ll be producing again as well. It’s unclear at this stage whether director Justin Kurzel will be returning as well, but then maybe they’re letting him finish the first movie before making him decide.
The news of a second Assassin’s Creed film comes at a point where the video game series that it’s based on is actually struggling a bit. For the past few years, Assassin’s Creed games have been released annually. Yet following the middling reception for the last couple of adventures, the decision has been made to skip this year, and possibly move away from an annual Assassin’s Creed game release altogether. The films may be helping in the intervening years, then.
Asteroids – TBA
In 2009, Universal acquired the rights to vintage blaster Asteroids. Very little has been released about this title other than Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer of Transformers and the GI Joe series, being involved. What story would this film have? Two years ago we had no idea, and today is the just the same. It looks to us that this one may be stuck in development hell. Bonaventura most recently told IGN in 2009 that it is a movie about two brothers who go through a “seminal experience” while in space with a “big backdrop.”
In Feb. 2015, Universal hired F. Scot Frazier – writer of upcoming Nicholas Hoult driving thriller Collide – to rework the existing script.
Roland Emmerich was once linked to the director’s chair, but seemingly stepped away around 2011. The shooting-rocks-and-nothing-else structure of Asteroids doesn’t immediately lend itself to moviemaking, but once you imagine what it’d be like to actually have that menial-yet-spacefaring job, it’s easier to imagine a few different takes. Fingers crossed for a dark comedy version.
Borderlands – TBA
Not to be confused with the 2013 horror film The Borderlands, a movie based on Gearbox and Take-Two’s immensely popular sci-fi game Borderlands recently went into development. Lionsgate will be the studio taking us to the abandoned-by-the-big-wigs frontier planet of Pandora.
They’ve recruited producers Avi Arad and his son Ari Arad, both of whom were involved in initially bringing Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the X-Men to the big screen. We’ve got high hopes.
Call of Duty Cinematic Universe – TBA
Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty games are massive money-spinners with a fervent fan-base. It’s surprising that we haven’t already seen a film version. This will be amended soon enough – Activision Blizzard has launched its own film studio, with a Call of Duty cinematic universe as their biggest goal.
We don’t know who the creative team will be, and we don’t know when the first film will come out. One thing we do know is that the official press release announcing Activision’s movie plans cited Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III as examples of the series’ cinematic potential.
Centipede – TBA
That’s right, Centipede and Missile Command, the Atari ‘80s arcade shooter games, are getting adapted into feature films. Deadline reports that Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films has made a deal with Atari to produce and finance the adaptations.
In a statement about the projects, Atari CEO Fred Chesnais said he was “thrilled to partner with Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films to develop feature films based on two of our most beloved titles. Centipede and Missile Command are part of Atari’s unparalleled and rich library of popular games and we cannot wait to see the movies come to life.”
The movies will be produced by Randall Emmett and George Furla (Lone Survivor). Emmett described the properties as “immensely popular titles have been enjoyed by generations of gamers worldwide. We look forward to a very successful partnership Command and to bringing Centipede and Missile Command to the big screen.”
Atari, Stephen Belafonte, Wayne Marc Godfrey and Robert Jones will executive produce the films, but there is currently no word on directors or writers for the projects.
Contra – TBA
Thirty years after its initial release, Konami’s classic is set to stage a come-back from an unexpected angle: a Chinese production company has announced that it’s making a movie adaptation. Aside from a slight change in location, the plot sounds broadly the same as the original game’s back-story. Here’s the official synopsis:
“In 1988, a huge meteorite lands on an uninhabited island in the South China Sea. Chen Qiang and Li Zhiyong investigate but come up empty handed. 29 years later, Chen sends commandos Bill and Lance into a combat mission there to neutralize the villainous Red Falcon Organization, but end up facing a different enemy altogether.”
We love that the movie retains the names of the characters from the Contra arcade machine. Like the rest of the game, Contra‘s steeped in 80s history and pop culture. Bill and Lance’s full names are Bill Rizer and Lance Bean – a mash-up of actors’ names from James Cameron’s Aliens (Paul Reiser, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Michael Biehn) – while their likenesses are evidently based on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
No release date, cast, or director announced as of yet.
Dante’s Inferno – TBA
Way back in 2013, it was announced that Fede Alvarez (director of the Evil Dead remake) would be helping to bring EA’s 2010 action adventure game Dante’s Inferno to the big screen. Since then, news about the project has stopped almost completely leaving many to speculate that it may have been quietly canceled.
According to Alvarez, however, that is not the case.
During an interview on IGN’s Sand Diego Comic-Con livestream, Alvarez confirmed that the Dante’s Inferno film adaptation is still in development. He also noted that rather than having the film be based solely off of the game, he intends to draw more inspiration for the original epic poem.
Detective Pikachu – TBA
With Pokemon Go unexpectedly becoming a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, Legendary Pictures quickly picked up the film rights to the Pokemon property in July and greenlit a project based on the upcoming Detective Pickachu video game. Now Variety reports that the Detective Pickachu adaptation will be written by Nicole Perlman and Alex Hirsch.
Rob Letterman (Goosebumps) has been tapped to direct.
Deus Ex – TBA
Originally announced in 2002, Deus Ex was scheduled for release in 2006, only to be completely cancelled two years before. Not much has been heard since, except that it is going through rewrites and it is still alive as a movie adaptation of Square Enix’s universally acclaimed cyberpunk title Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
CBS films had snapped up Scott Derrickson to direct the film adaptation of Human Revolution. His CV includes Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and he’s currently working on Doctor Strange for Marvel Studios. That may yet mean he has to pass on Deus Ex…
Devil May Cry – TBA
In 2011, the company that gained great success with the Resident Evil franchise, Screen Gems, announced the plans for a Devil May Cry movie. Little has been revealed about this plan other than it will be an origin story with the original character style. It still has no known writers or director. Bummer.
The Division – TBA
Ubisoft Motion Pictures (a film division of the game development company) confirmed that they will be turning the controversial 2016 online shooter into a major motion picture.
Variety is reporting that Syriana director Stephen Gaghan has signed on to helm the high-profile movie about a post-apocalyptic New York quarantined after the spread of a deadly virus and now controlled by gangs. In the game, a small group of elite military operatives must fight back against these gangs and find a cure for the virus. We really loved the game when it first released last year.
Gaghan will take on his first video game adaptation, although it’s not his first experience with the industry. The director also wrote the script for the tepidly received first-person shooter Call of Duty: Ghosts.
According to Variety, Jake Gyllenhaal has signed up to star in the adaptation and will also produce, which makes it the actor’s second game-to-film project to date — he previously starred in Disney’s tepid Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time in 2010. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) has also been cast to star alongside Gyllenhaal.
The game’s premise is a solid basis for an action thriller: set in a wintry Manhattan beset by a deadly pandemic, it’s about a small group of agents whose job is to restore order and seek out the cause of the outbreak. The dark and violent concept could be really effective in the hands of the right filmmakers.
Far Cry – TBA
Uwe Boll may have done his very damnedest to break any chance of a compelling Far Cry movie being made with his own unique take on the material, but Ubisoft is coming back around for another go. This time, it’s looking to invest more heavily and retain a greater degree of creative control over the film. It would be no understatement—as much as Mr Boll brings a smile to our faces—to suggest that’s a good idea.
Firewatch – TBA
THR has learned that Firewatch, 2016’s biggest entrant into the “Walking Simulator” genre, is now set to be adapted into a major motion picture.
This project is part of a deal between film production company Good Universe and Firewatch‘s developer Campo Santo who are joining forces in order to create a subsidiary intended to connect filmmakers and game developers. The full extent of this collaboration is unknown, but Campo Santo founder Sean Vanaman did have this to say regarding the agreement.
The first thing the two parties plan to make is an adaptation of 2016’s Firewatch which has, thus far, been one of the most surprising video game hits of 2016. Firewatch follows a man named Henry who has decided to work as a fire lookout in Wyoming. When a mysterious occurrence attracts Henry’s attention and compels him to wander into the wilderness, he is soon drawn into an intriguing web of moral conflicts that must be navigated with the help of a supervisor he retains contact with through the use of a handheld radio.
Five Nights at Freddy’s – TBA
Scott Cawthon’s intensely frightening point-and-click survival game Five Nights at Freddy’s has been picked up by Warner Bros. for a filmic adaptation. We’ll get to see a security guard fighting animatronic animals on the big screen, it would seem.
Monster House director Gil Kenan is helming the film version, which will use practical effects to bring the creepy robotic inhabitants of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza to life. He’s been releasing teasing glimpses of the film on social media, which has us rather intrigued.
Fruit Ninja – TBA
Fruit Ninja is coming to the big screen. Now you can watch as someone wildly makes a fruit salad out of miles of digital celluloid. In anticipation of the all popcorn crumbsAngry Birds will be leaving in the aisles, Tripp Vinson announced it will produce a feature film treatment of the mobile app Fruit Ninja.
The addictive game already spawned a live action version from a YouTuber named ScottDW but this one will drop from Vinson Films. The screenplay is being typed right now by JP Lavin and Chad Damiani, who adapted the book How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.
Fruit Ninja is the second top-selling iOS game ever. It has had over one billion downloads since it was introduced in 2010 and is now ready to be made as a live-action comedy the whole family can enjoy. Oh they’re keeping details on the plot very secret. There are so many things you can do with apples and oranges, swords and bombs.
The movie will be executive produced by Sam White and Tara Farney.
Gears of War – TBA
A feature film adaptation of the video game Gears of War, long in development but recently on the back burner, is being actively developed by producers Dylan Clark (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Scott Stuber (Central Intelligence), the latter of whom has been working on the project for three years.
The news was announced by Microsoft during a livestream for the upcoming release of Gears of War 4, with the company revealing that the project has found a home at Universal Pictures (who apparently did not feel sufficiently burned by the box office flameout of its Warcraft adaptation).
Screenwriter Shane Salerno has been hired to pen a Gears of War movie for Universal Pictures and Microsoft Studios, according to Deadline.
Salerno has busied himself recently by working on the four upcoming Avatar sequels with James Cameron, as well as an adaptation of Don Winslow’s book The Cartel that Ridley Scott intends to direct. And speaking of directors, Gears Of War needs one too.
Gears of War is a third person shooter game that follows the members of Delta Squad, a team of soldiers tasked with saving the human inhabitants of a planet called Sera from an alien force known as the Locust Horde (among other creatures).
The idea is to not base the movie directly on any particular Gears of War game, but to create a new story set in the Gears of War universe.
Ghost Recon – TBA
On the Tom Clancy and Ubisoft side of things, there is movement at Warner Bros. with the parterning of Michael Bay, director of Transformers and producer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to produce a Ghost Recon movie. The story of a fictional U.S. Special Forces division that operates as the U.S. President’s personal army and assassination squad, the picture will mark Bay’s first collaboration with WB.
WB and Bay have since tapped Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia to pen the screenplay. Federman and Scaia are still primarily TV writers who have worked on Jericho, Human Target, and Warehouse 13. Federman and Scaia have also previously collaborated on a Zorro reboot script that Sony has yet to film and a draft of the now-seemingly-doomed film version of the comic Y: The Last Man. They’ll be hoping that their Ghost Recon film doesn’t go the same way, but with someone as lucrative as Michael Bay interested, it’s hard to imagine Warners giving up on the idea.
God of War – TBA
God Of War was originally announced in 2005 after the game’s release, but was dropped four years later by X-Men: The Last Stand director Brett Ratner (who has since made his swords and sandal epic with Dwayne Johnson in this summer’s Hercules). Daniel Craig turned down the lead role and that seemed to be the end of it. However, Piranha 3DD and Saw IV writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton were hired to rewrite a draft by The Wolfman screenwriter David Self. They have since said in February 2014 that the film will hopefully strive to humanize the character of Kratos and focus on his backstory, making comparisons to Christopher Nolan and Batman, as they head in a “bolder” direction than that of the games. But the film has moved no further than this, and there’s still with no director even though a $150 million budget has been earmarked. Can it be done?
Gran Turismo – TBA
There was a time where EA’s Need for Speed game and Polyphony/Sony’s Gran Turismo were both in development for film adaptations at the same time. As you already know, EA won the race by miles and the Need for Speed film has already made it to cinemas.
Sony are pushing on with their Gran Turismo movie regardless, with Oblivion and Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski calling the shots. Red, Battleship, and The Last Witch Hunter scribes Jon Hoeber and Eric Hoeber are working on the scripts currently. The film is being guided by producers Dana Brunetti and Mike De Luca.
Half-Life – TBA
While promoting his latest production, 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is very good by the way, J.J. Abrams gave IGN an update about Bad Robot’s upcoming Half-Life movie. It’s not much of an update and even Abrams says so.
“We’ve got writers, and we’re working on both those stories. But nothing that would be an exciting update,” says Abrams, who’s set to produce both films. He didn’t reveal who the writers were, though.
Meanwhile, the Half-Life movie, which was first announced by Valve head Gabe Newell at DICE 2013, has proven to be as elusive as the games themselves. Since the film’s announcement, there hadn’t been any additional information until now. We assumed it was burning in development hell. Glad to see that’s not the case.
Halo – TBA
It was announced in 2005 that Peter Jackson was set to produce a Halo film adaptation, helmed by director Neill Blomkamp. After numerous script rewrites and the stopping and starting of preproduction, the project was declared dead two years later. The two directors later collaborated on District 9, and in spite of occasional discussions and rumors that spring up, the Halo movie seems stuck in development hell, where it’s likely to remain for some time to come.
Heavy Rain – TBA
Noir masterpiece Heavy Rain seems naturally cinematic on its own, but a film adaptation is in fact in the works. The rights were acquired by New Line days after the game’s demo at 2006’s E3 and sold at auction to production company Unique Features. The film was soon after fast tracked by WB, and NYPD Blue and Deadwood writer David Milch was hired to write the script in 2013. Little else has been released about the film since then.
Just Cause – TBA
Variety is now reporting that Jason Momoa – he of Game of Thrones and Aquaman fame – has signed on to star in the Just Cause film project. Momoa is set to play series protagonist Rico Rodriguez; a highly-skilled operative who completes various assignments for the mysterious organization known simply as the Agency. Presumably, said assignments will be completed within the confines of some exotic tropical locale, but that particular detail – along with many other aspects of the plot – is unconfirmed at this time.
Meanwhile, Brad Peyton (San Andreas) has been confirmed as the film’s director. Interestingly, Peyton is also working on a film version of the popular arcade game Rampage which stars none other than San Andreas lead, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. We’ll let you decide whether the producers that apparently looked at San Andreas and thought, “Now that’s what a video game movie should look like,” are in the right or not.
Speaking of producers, Peyton and Jeff Fierson will be handling the production of the Just Cause film via their ASAP Entertainment production company. Additional producers include Roy Lee (Vertigo Entertainment), Adrian Askarieh (Prime Universe Films), Eva Cao (Supernova Entertainment), as well as Mason Xu and Fan Dong of DNA Co. Ltd. It’s worth noting that the China-based studio DNA is handling the film’s financing. It seems that the China’s fascination with funding blockbuster action films continues to grow stronger and stronger.
There’s no word yet on when Just Cause will start shooting or if it will include scenes featuring Rodriguez tying cows to the blades of helicopters and then tying civilians to the cows. If it’s attempting to replicate the best parts of the Just Cause games, however, it most certainly should.
Kane & Lynch – TBA
It was initially planned for an adaptation of the Kane & Lynch series to burst onto our screens in 2014, originally set to star Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx respectively, but this doesn’t appear to be the case since we received an update in November 2013 which suggested Gerard Butler and Vin Diesel were up for the parts. Saturday Night Live’s Jon Lovitz was rumored to star in a mystery role, but as of right now the release date has been set to “unknown,” and the two lead roles are still unconfirmed.
The Last of Us – TBA
Although some would argue that the game is cinematic enough in of itself, Sony subsidiary Screen Gems (the company behind the Resident Evil film franchise) are currently working hard on bringing Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us to the big screen.
Sam Raimi is on board as a producer, while the game’s writer, Neil Druckmann, is working on the screenplay. (Druckmann also penned the Uncharted series). Druckmann gave an update in January 2015, insisting that his screenplay would be “pretty faithful” to his original game script, despite a few “big changes.”
In March 2016, Druckmann admitted that the film is in development hell until further notice. Raimi also confirmed as much recently, citing creative differences between Druckmann and Sony in terms of the direction of the film.
Maisie Williams has apparently had meetings about playing the lead character, Ellie, but for now the movie doesn’t seem to be moving anywhere fast.
Mass Effect – TBA
The sprawling sci-fi franchise that is BioWare’s Mass Effect saga seems tailor-made for adaptation into a cinematic space opera. It’s no surprise, then, that Legendary and Warner Bros. have snapped up the rights.
Avi Arad is board as a producer, and Mark Protsevich worked on a script back in 2012. However, in March 2014, Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull revealed that getting the film’s story nailed down and ready for production wasn’t easy:
“I think the canon they’ve created is sophisticated,” he told IGN. “It’s very broad, meaning you can’t pitch that in 30 seconds, right? It’s a complex story. So it is challenging. If it wasn’t challenging, the movie would have been out by now, but it is. We’ve just got to stick to our guns that, if it’s a movie that’s going to come from us, we want it to be great. If we can’t crack that yet then we just have to keep working.”
Mega Man – TBA
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are reportedly set to write and direct a movie based on the Mega Man franchise.
This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter who state that Twentieth Century Fox’s adaptation of Capcom’s Mega Man is moving forward and will be helmed by the duo responsible for the documentary Catfish as well as found footage horror films Paranormal Activity 3 & 4. At this time, it’s not clear whether the two will share writing and directing duties or splitting creative roles.
Twentieth Century Fox has reportedly tried to acquire the rights to the Mega Man franchise for years now and finally secured them earlier this year. Reports suggest that the studio has brought in Peter Chernin, Mike Ireland, and Ryan Harrigan to produce the movie.
Metal Gear Solid – TBA
Metal Gear Solid has had one of the longest movie adaptation gestation periods on this list. A Metal Gear Solid film adaptation was put into pre-production in late 2013 after six years of development. With supposed interest from Christian Bale, all we know is that the film will be set in Alaska. We received an exclusive update in April 2014 on the movie’s progress from producer Avi Arad, who previously produced the Marvel films of the 2000s and The Amazing Spider-Man films.
Various writers, producers and directors (notably Quentin Tarantino, Kurt Wimmer and Paul Thomas Anderson) have been linked to the production over the year. In 2014, The Kings of Summer and Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts was linked to the movie. In March 2015, Monsters: Dark Continent writer Jay Basu signed up to script the film.