To say that film adaptations of video game properties have had a rough history would be putting it kindly. Let’s be honest, the vast majority of them have been terrible, and the few that we could argue for putting into the “good” column haven’t exactly been Citizen Kane. Think of where comic book adaptations were back in the 90’s and that’s about where you should set the bar.
But for every box office bomb or critical punching bag, there is a project that seemed promising but never got off the ground for one reason or another. Video game films that may have reversed the curse and created a movie adaptation worthy of the game that inspired it. These are the top five video game films that never made it to the big screen.
Back in 2003, Universal Pictures got the rights to create a film based on the classic Spy Hunter arcade game. The promise of a high speed, action packed movie with gorgeous cars and crazy stunts sounded great at a time when The Fast and the Furious franchise was just starting to spin it’s tires. In fact, future Fast and Furious star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was attached to bring this series to the screen, but as the fates would have it, it was never meant to be.
Legendary director John Woo was set to direct the film at first, coming off of big hits like Face/Off and Mission Impossible 2, we were all set to see the Interceptor squeal it’s tires as a flock of doves flew around it in slow motion, but scheduling conflicts nixed those plans. Then Universal signed Paul WS Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil) to the project but that deal fell apart a short time later. Then in 2010 Warner Bros. acquired the film rights after buying up original Spy Hunter developer Midway and announced plans to adapt the series themselves. That film never materialized though and all has been quiet ever since.
Speaking of John Woo, the director was also attached to an adaptation of Nintendo’s popular Metroid series right around the same time as his Spy Hunter film fell apart. The movie was set to tell the origins of the bounty hunter Samas Aran and her fight against the parasitic Metroids and the evil Mother Brain, but creative differences with Nintendo, who are notoriously protective of their properties, led to the film being scrapped in 2007.
There have been murmurs of a new attempt to adapt the game to film in recent years, with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island) expressing his interest in making the film in an interview, and actress Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) professing her love for the character and stating that she would love to portray her on screen. My guess though is that with Nintendo still being overly protective of their properties, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a Metroid movie anytime soon.
Showtime is developing a live action Halo series for the just announced Paramount + streaming service which is set to debut in 2022, but back in 2006 Microsoft’s flagship franchise was being developed as a feature film from acclaimed director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) and producer Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings).
Reports say that the production was rocky from the start, with Microsoft having demands for everything from creative control of the cast and crew to merchandising rights. Director Blomkamp also reportedly butted heads with Microsoft and the studio over their vision of the film and eventually the production was cancelled. With so much talent involved, it sounded like it could have been amazing, but as is so often the case, things fell apart and hopefully the television series can do justice to the beloved franchise.
Bioshock is one of the most cinematic and grandiose video games of all time and a movie adaptation of that world would no doubt have been a spectacle to behold, but sadly Hollywood couldn’t manage to get all of their ducks in a row to bring this undersea adventure to life. Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) was on board to direct the film back in 2008 and they were actually a mere 8 weeks from the beginning of filming before the whole production sank.
Money and the creative vision for the film are ultimately what led to it’s demise, with production costs said to be quite high due to having to build this entire underwater metropolis from scratch. The cost might not have been such a big deal if not for the fact that Verbinski also insisted on the film being R rated to stay true to the games which could be quite gruesome and terrifying. As many folks will tell you, the combination of an R rating and huge budget can be a killer for a film, and Universal Studios apparently wasn’t willing to take that risk.
You might be thinking “Wait, haven’t I seen a Resident Evil movie?”. Yes, but not the one originally planned. At first, legendary horror director and zombie godfather George Romero was set to direct the adaption to Capcom’s classic. In many ways, Romero’s script was much more faithful to the games then the films which were eventually made, mostly following the events of the first game and featuring all of the main characters and creatures we know and love. But it also featured some big differences to those characters with Chris being a rancher who is dating Jill among them.
Ultimately producers weren’t happy with the extreme levels of gore that Romero was planning on and had issues with his script. He was fired from the project and the job eventually went to Paul W.S. Anderson who turned out a decent film and 5 sequels which, while inspired by the games, took enormous liberties with the story. While we will never see the gruesome vision that the late Romero had in mind, there is a reboot of the franchise in the works which will reportedly be much closer to the game that it’s based on.