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Video game movies and shows you didn't know were being made

Unfortunate but true: video game movies and shows don't exactly have the best track record. Undeterred, Hollywood has always had an interest in getting the rights to the most popular titles. Familiar names like Mario or Minecraft already have a guaranteed fanbase that studios are relying on to make the film or show version a box office hit. Sometimes that tactic works, but after bombs like Assassin's Creed and Warcraft, gamers and viewers alike are hesitant to get hyped when a game finds new life on the big or small screen.

However bad the adaptations might be, there's always a chance to do better. This must be the logic behind the dozens of deals being made for big-budget productions of your video game favorites. There are a lot of video game inspired movies and shows being made; even titles that have no apparent plot are eligible for the Hollywood treatment. Some have been stuck in development for ages, while others are releasing to global audiences faster than you think.

Surely, somewhere here is the diamond in the rough: the video game movie or show to break the curse of bad adaptations.

Dance Dance Revolution will save the world

Remember the little arcades in the lobby of the local cinema? There were crane games ready to steal naive kids' cash, half-busted Pac-Man cabinets, and invariably a well-worn Dance Dance Revolution machine. Dance Dance Revolution is fairly straightforward: you step on arrows that correspond to the beat of the song on screen and flail your way to some semblance of a stomping, jumping dance. Nothing too complicated, unless one gets good enough for the too-fast-to-follow competitive scene. There's no plot, no characters; just music and movement.

Film studio Stampede has decided  there is enough drama and action within the game's directional arrows to move Dance Dance Revolution from the arcade into the theater. Former President of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman and the game's own intellectual property owner Konami have thrown their weight behind the movie version of the 21-year-old arcade classic. Little is known so far about just what production entails, but the film apparently takes place in a world nearing cataclysmic destruction.

The Dance Dance Revolution movie will be less "dance for fun and fitness" and more "dance, dance for your life!" The only hope for survival in this bleak setting is to find meaning and understanding through foot-motion.

Mega Man for the masses

After years of rumors, the secret is out: Capcom's favorite boy in blue is coming to the big screen. Mega Man is getting a movie adaptation after captivating gamers since his debut on the NES back in 1987. Fighting bad bots with Mega Man's mega buster cannon arm is sure to look more cinematic on screen than in 8-bit.

Mega Man is already further down the pipe than your typical movie adaptation: writers and directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are already at work. They have previously produced the adrenaline-packed film Nerve and the hit documentary Catfish. It's unclear if the movie will have the same kind of plot twists a production like Catfish packs, but Capcom has stated it is aiming to bring in more than just gamers. The new Mega Man movie will appeal to action movie fans who have no idea what side-scroller even means.

Co-produced by actor Masi Oka and Chernin Entertainment, the powerhouse behind the Planet of the Apes series, the Mega Man movie looks like it could blast out of the usual video game movie mold.

Firewatch should be one to watch

Some players have said Firewatch was more of a movie than a game to begin with, but now the hit 2016 title is officially getting a movie. The narrative-driven mystery-adventure game has been praised for its masterful storytelling and striking visuals of Wyoming wilderness, setting a high bar for film studio Good Universe, who teamed up with independent developer and publisher Campo Santo for the project.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two studios shared creative visions for the future of games and film, and thus may produce further projects together in either medium. Whatever comes of the partnership, fans hope that a Firewatch film sticks to what made the game so good: isolation, minimalism, and a woodsy, indie aesthetic.

Firewatch is unique in that the player becomes intimately familiar with just one character, Henry, while never really seeing him in the first-person gameplay. In the silence of the watchtower, all the player has to go off of are Henry's own thoughts and sparse communication with the sardonic but faceless Delilah, far off and untouchable in another lookout. The two were voiced by Mad Men's Rich Sommer and The Walking Dead's Cissy Jones, respectively. It wouldn't be too much to ask for a reprisal of their roles, this time in front of a camera rather than behind a mic.

Uncharted needs to find a path out of development

It might seem impossible, but you are now closer than ever to an Uncharted movie. Fans got a taste of what all the action and adventure the game series packs in a dream-cast mini-movie starring geek supreme Nathan Fillion as wisecracking treasure hunter Nathan Drake. As perfect as Fillion appears for the role, Drake has already been cast. Tom Holland, the star of Spider-Man: Homecoming, will play a younger Drake, with the production presented as a prequel to the Naughty Dog games players know and love.

Despite his youthful face, Holland has athletic skills, big-budget film experience, and a dance repertoire that may or may not come in handy for the role. Though the project has lost several directors and endured multiple delays, the adaptation is slated to hit theaters on March 5, 2021. Despite the bad news, Sony has confirmed a flurry of casting choices over the past few months, including the addition of Antonio BanderasMark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, and Tati Gabrielle to the roster. Ruben Fleischer of Venom and Zombieland fame has also signed on as the new director.

Tom Clancy's The Division will still have room for the story

Every other studio in Hollywood seems interested in making the next big video game movie but can't seem to get the ball rolling on actually filming it. They buy up the rights and then sit on them for years without hiring so much as a production assistant. Uncharted and now Tom Clancy's The Division are the exceptions to this rule. They have taken their time to get there, but known names cast in starring roles bring a bit of confidence to fans.

The Division now has A-list talent Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain attached to the project. What might be even more promising is the director, David Leitch, and the hardcore action experience he comes with. Having first worked as a stunt coordinator, Leitch has directed fast-firing, sometimes gritty hits like Deadpool 2 and John Wick.

Leitch has also stated he doesn't want to sacrifice story and character in favor of focusing in on the action of the first-person shooter. In an interview with Collider, Leitch said he believes he can deliver a good movie within the playground The Division fans love. Ubisoft has since revealed that Netflix picked up the rights to the film, which will release exclusively on the streaming platform.

Super Mario Bros. has a whole new medium to conquer

It won't be hard for a new Mario movie to outdo the cringey 1993 Super Mario Bros. live action movie that had the Mario brothers falling through the New York City sewers into a cyberpunk future where giant lizard Koopas threatened to take over the world. So the bar is pretty low for Illumination, the studio behind everyone's favorite little yellow Minions, to make a Mario movie that stays true to the original games and doesn't take so many over-the-top liberties.

The film will be animated and produced under the watchful eye of creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo announced via Twitter. Illumination's animation style jives fairly well with the clean cut animation in newer Nintendo titles; Despicable Me's minions look as if they could be off-brand Goombas. Considering the universal appeal of Nintendo and the proven success of Illumination, the fresh new Mario movie could be the one to break the video game curse and open the door to other Nintendo titles making big screen appearances. 

Move over Jurassic World and make way for Yoshi's Island in 3D. Forget Rise of the Planet of the Apes, think Donkey Kong Country the movie. Luigi's Mansion: the survival horror film to put the Blair Witch remake to shame.

Gears of War is stuck in the cogs of Hollywood

Before the release of Gears of War 4, Microsoft announced that a Gears of War movie was in the works in partnership with Universal Pictures. There has not been much news of the adaptation in the years since, but excitement has yet to die, especially if you're Dave Bautista.

Bautista made the transition from the world of wrestling into mainstream acting, best-known for the memorable role of Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy series. Now he says that he is ready to take on an even bigger name and a starring role: he wants to play Marcus Fenix in the Gears of War movie. It's hard to argue that he wouldn't be a perfect fit. Marcus Fenix is a big man, square-jawed and serious, who may as well be Bautista's video game twin. Bautista has said that he has been pursuing the role for years, but again, there's no news yet as to what's happening with production.

Rod Fergusson, former studio head of developer The Coalition, has said the film wouldn't follow the plot of any one Gears game, but instead take place in the same universe. In an interview with Variety, he stated the movies and games are two different mediums, and that video game movies of the past have failed because they've tried to make a movie specifically for gamers while ignoring other audience members. It seems the Gears movie, if it ever releases, seeks to avoid a similar fate.

Metal Gear Solid has a potentially solid cast

Whatever Death Stranding is about, it has film director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' seal of approval. His relationship of mutual admiration with Hideo Kojima is perhaps why he has been entrusted with the good name of Metal Gear as the director of the film adaptation.

Vogt-Roberts is a big fan of the games. He thinks that Metal Gear is one of the greatest series of all time and that his job is to communicate that "Metal Gear is Metal Gear and it is nothing else."

"If you make a Metal Gear movie it needs to be [...] completely committed to one tone but then goofy the next moment, and then stylised and bizarre but then beautiful and reflective, and just that whole spectrum of things that is Kojima's voice," he said to IGN. He also revealed some of his favorite characters that he wants to include like Sniper Wolf and Cyborg Ninja. But who will bring life to Solid Snake himself?

"Metal Gear Solid, that's the one. I'm throwing my hat in for that one." Oscar Isaac of Star Wars fame told IGN that of any video game adaptation, he would want to star in the Metal Gear movie the most. And Vogt-Roberts seems on board, having commissioned a convincing Photoshop edit of Isaac as Solid Snake. While the official casting process hasn't yet begun, Vogt-Roberts said tThe ball's in Oscar's court."

Monster Hunter roars into theaters

Move over Godzilla, there's a new host of gargantuan, scaly kaiju ready to to take over the silver screen. An apparently poorly kept secret, it looks like Capcom's hit franchise Monster Hunter is lumbering toward the Hollywood hills. The live-action film will be directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who is well acquainted with the video game movie genre, having headed up the Resident Evil film franchise. The project is currently in development, and Anderson is all-in as not only the director, but also as the writer and producer alongside Capcom.

It does not appear as if the film will retell the story of the games, but Capcom has promised "familiar faces" in the ambiguous synopsis of the movie, which details a tale of two heroes and the many monsters that threaten them. Casting for the Monster Hunter movie is promising so far: Resident Evil's leading lady Milla Jovovich, rapper T.I., Diego Boneta, and Ron Perlman have all signed on to the epic adventure. Filming has even begun, taking advantage of the vast, wild landscapes in South Africa and Namibia. The Monster Hunter movie will be rip-roaring into theaters on Sept. 4, 2020.

Werewolves Within is unleashed onto Hollywood

Everyone's favorite party game of betrayal and bluffing was reincarnated in VR by Ubisoft in Werewolves Within. The game, sometimes called Mafia or Werewolf, is usually played sitting around couches at an IRL get-together, each player pleading their innocence while trying to discover the killer in their midst. Werewolves Within supports all the same social aspects of whispering, yelling, and accusing each other, just with the more fitting ambiance of a village sitting around a magic crystal ball.

Now the game is getting the Hollywood treatment thanks to Ubisoft's Women's Film and Television Fellowship, a paid program aimed at elevating women's voices. Mishna Wolff was one of the first candidates chosen for the fellowship and was given access to Ubisoft's entire library of games. At the end of the program and after much deliberation, she and fellow fellow Tasha Huo pitched their ideas to Ubisoft Motion Pictures. 

Huo is now working on a TV pilot for a live-action Child of Light series. Wolff, complete with her fitting name, is scripting a live-action Werewolves Within. Wolff has described her vision as a political satire, set in a small town where every resident is suddenly judge, jury, and executioner. The horror comedy pitch came as a surprise to Margaret Boykin, Ubisoft's Director of Film Development, but she seems confident the end result will be a "slam dunk."

The Last of Us is getting the Game of Thrones treatment

Yes, The Last of Us is getting a TV adaptation on HBO. What's even more exciting is that this adaptation has the official seal of approval from the original creator of Joel and Ellie's story. Head writer Neil Druckmann will be working closely with the production to make sure HBO doesn't take too many liberties. Druckmann seems just as excited as fans to see his beloved characters on the small screen.

"I can't believe we get to team up with one of my favorite writers to bring Ellie and Joel's journey to HBO," Druckmann tweeted when the news broke. That favorite writer just so happens to be Craig Mazin, the genius behind the critically-acclaimed series Chernobyl.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mazin has just as much respect for Druckmann's artistic abilities. "Neil Druckmann is without question the finest storyteller working in the video game medium, and The Last of Us is his magnum opus. Getting a chance to adapt this breathtaking work of art has been a dream of mine for years, and I'm so honored to do it in partnership with Neil," said Mazin.

This is a promising start to what's sure to be a beautiful friendship. And TV show, of course.