Getting Video Game-Based Films Right Proves To Be Tricky

Jun 20, 2016

In cinema history, there have been 37 video game adaptations. But yet, the only one has grasped at success -- Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie in 2001 with a box office record of $131 million.

In a time where a movie about LEGO is vastly successful, it is proven that a movie’s content based on toys or games will not alienate viewers. Yet, the video game to movie genre can’t seem to quite get the recipe right.

"For a while I tried to ignore video game-based movies assuming that it's probably going to be kind of cheesy and not very compelling, and I may have been correct about some of the early ones...but I've become more interested in the phenomenon of it and the multiplicity of stories that can result from playing these games is kind of fascinating. And it's certainly just as good a source of material (for movies)," says film contributor and the arts and entertainment editor for the Shepherd Express, Dave Luhrssen.

However, Luhrssen says the film industry has two problems when it comes to adapting games into movies. "One is that many of these movies are not appealing to non-players of the game," he says. "And secondly, it's probably not unlike the people who have a favorite novel and see the movie and are very let down by it." 

This month saw the release of Warcraft, based off of the 22-year-old game series World of Warcraft, where makes players assume the role of heroes into a fantasy world of humans, orcs, dwarfs and mages.

This film adaptation attempts to bring gamers and general audiences alike together. But with too much story to squeeze into one film, Luhrssen says it leaves the viewer wishing for a re-start.

In the realm of video games where stories and settings have been decades in the making, perhaps it is just too difficult to simmer the game down into a feature film. However, Luhrssen is hopeful for the future of these movies and knows that someone will get the formula right someday.

"It is a creative challenge and we need some greater minds creatively to approach these kinds of projects," he says. "I am confident that in the future we will have critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies of this kind often...we haven't gotten there yet."