Video Game Films?

How come Video games have never adapted well into films?

Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of some of Nintendo’s most iconic characters and games such as Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda said,

zelda mario donkey knog

“I think that part of the problem with translating games to movies is that the structure of what makes a good game is very different from the structure of what makes a good movie. Movies are a much more passive medium, where the movie itself is telling a story and you, as the viewer, are relaxing and taking that in passively… video games, as a whole, have a very simple flow in terms of what’s going on in the game. We make that flow entertaining by implementing many different elements to the video game to keep the player entertained. Movies have much more complex stories, or flow, to them, but the elements that affect that flow are limited in number.”

Beginning with Super Mario Bros. there have been twenty-seven internationally released live action films based on video games between 1993 and 2012.

Although critically, the films were poorly received with ratings ranging on ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ from a dismal 0% (Double Dragon, 1994) to a still below average 35% (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, 2010), financially the films did disproportionately well earning up to $335,154,643.00 at the box office due in large part to the wide fan base of video games.

Since the colossal cinematic flop that was Super Mario Bros. Nintendo has been reluctant to put its properties into other media, especially when concerning the only game to supersede the popularity and familiarity of Mario, which is of course the hero-of-Hyrule himself, Link from The Legend of Zelda.

However on April 1, 2008, IGN played a cruel April fool’s day trick on the world releasing a well-crafted, high budget trailer for The Legend of Zelda (a non-existent film).

As far as a real Zelda film is concerned, in a recent interview, the man in charge of all things Zelda these days, Eiji Aonuma, said that,

“If we were to make a Zelda title, if we had interest in doing that, I think really what would be most important to us is to be able to play with the format of a movie, make it more interactive, like you’re able to take your 3DS into the theatre and that leads you into participating in it somehow. We wouldn’t want to make it the same as any other movie. We want to somehow change what a movie is.”


Hollywood failed in the 90’s with B-grade, low budget, video game movies because they weren’t confident enough in the cross-over to commit financially. However the same occurrence went for comic book films of the 90’s. After the hype of DC’s flag ship Superman had faded away the 90’s were left with a string of made for T.V. comic book movies such as Captain America and Generation x (A very, very bad X-men adaptation).

 When Hollywood finally chose to commit financially to the re-boot of Batman in 2005 (and then subsequently every other comic book ever conceived!) everything changed, peaking with The Avengers, destroying box office records with a Hulk sized intake of $623,357,910.

Hollywood has begun to see the financial potential in video game films. If recent Hollywood trends with comics book films are anything to go by, the increase in gaming popularity means that Hollywood will not hesitate to jump on the video games band wagon, especially considering that in sheer size the comics industry and its fan base pales in comparison to the ever growing video game industry. I predict that we can expect a boom in high budget, A-list, video game adaptations in the next few years, starting with the highly anticipated Assassins Creed starring up and coming Hollywood heavy hitter Michael Fassbender.

assassins creed



One thought on “Video Game Films?

  1. Hopefully in a couple of the upcoming lectures, we’ll have some opportunities to think about why some of the film adaptations of video games fail so badly. But it’s interesting to note Aonuma’s comments; do we really think that that sort of “interactive cinema” is actually the way to solve the problem of video game adaptations, or are the issues deeper than that?

    Just a quick thought.


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