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Uncharted Movie - What We Know So Far

Detective Pikachu seemed to prove that not all video game movies have to be terrible. They can be, dare we say, good. Entertaining even. Over the years, many studios have gotten our hopes up and promised to make our favorite AAA title into a live action film that would rival the likes of major blockbusters. So far, none have delivered, unless you want to count the 2016 Assassin's Creed movie that flopped with a flourish. 

Sony might guide us into a new era where AAA games get made into movies that are actually good, starting with Uncharted. There have been whispers of an Uncharted movie for years, but now details are finally being unveiled that promise we will indeed one day get to sit in a theater and witness Nathan Drake doing his thing on the big screen. Sooner rather than later as it turns out. Here is everything we know about the forthcoming Sony-produced Uncharted film.

2008: When the future looked bright

The long, long road of the Uncharted film's production started all the way back in 2008. This was right when the soon-to-be revolutionary superhero movie movement really got going, and one of the visionaries behind it saw potential in making games into feature-length films. Avi Arad, former chief creative officer at Marvel, was determined to adapt Naughty Dog's Uncharted series.

"I think Uncharted will be very successful. It's a father and son game. There are things about it that are interesting. I think the world of antiquities theft, there are many countries in the world that realised they're being robbed and they're trying to recoup these important pieces," said Arad in an interview with Kotaku. Inspired by film producer Bernd Eichinger breathing life into Resident Evil, Arad also saw potential in games like Mass Effect and Metal Gear Solid. Uncharted would be just the start in a long line of AAA adaptations, proving that the video game movie curse could be broken. Optimistically, he thought that Uncharted could be released in the next few years. Oh, if only he knew.

Remember when Mark Wahlberg was going to star in the Uncharted movie? We do.

Many fans had set their sights on Nathan Fillion, a nerd first and an actor second, as the ideal Nathan Drake. Fillion even produced and starred in a short film where he wisecracked as our favorite treasure hunter and pulled off some impressive stunts. Alas, this was just a fan production, and Hollywood had other plans in mind. At one point, the burgeoning Uncharted production set its sights on Mark Wahlberg to portray Nathan Drake.


Marky Mark was being considered back when David O. Russell was set as the writer/director for the adaptation. Russell had worked with Wahlberg on the set of his Academy Award-winning film The Fighter, and he apparently had a few other big names in mind. Wahlberg said to MTV at the time, "I'm obviously in whatever David wants to do but the idea of it is so off the charts: De Niro being my father, Pesci being my uncle. It's not going to be the watered-down version, that's for sure." Russell conjured up Drake's non-existent family for the sake of casting Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Maybe it's not so shocking that he didn't last long as the project's director. Wahlberg was gone a few years after.

2016 release ... no actually, 2017. Scratch that.

David O. Russell had imagined an Uncharted film as a sort of mafia movie: a crime family with Drake at the center would mete out justice in the world of ancient art, Sopranos-style. He soon dropped out of the project due to "creative differences." Russell's script was heavily reworked by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, who co-wrote the globe-trotting, treasure-hunting film Sahara

Somewhere along the way, director Neil Burger was hired and then fired. David Guggenheim wrote another new script, and things finally seemed to be underway with director Seth Gordon at the helm ... until they didn't. Uncharted's release was set for 2016, until the project gained yet another new script, this time penned by Mark Boal of The Hurt Locker fame. A gritty Uncharted was then set to release in 2017 ... until Shawn Levy was instead hired to direct, and Joe Carnahan rewrote the script. Then yet another script was put forward by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, and Rafe Judkins, while Levy exited the project. 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg was meant to see Uncharted through to completion, but seemingly inevitably dropped out, as many had before him, even with a 2020 release date looming.

Tom Holland is Nathan Drake

In the games, Nathan Drake isn't old by any means, but he isn't young. So fans were surprised when baby-faced Tom Holland, Spider-Man himself, was cast as Nathan Drake. Holland has certainly proven himself as a AAA action star with his web-swinging, bad guy-bashing role as Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but can this 23-year-old really pull off the Nathan Drake we've come to know in the games?

Taking to Twitter, some fans have said that they can't really imagine Holland as anything but a wide-eyed high schooler. Others have looked at Uncharted's time in development hell and say there's nothing to worry about: Holland will be middle-aged by the time Sony actually gets around to filming the movie. Cynical takes aside, it seems that Sony has doubled down on Holland, making him the centerpiece of not one, but two huge franchises. No pressure, Tom. You got this.

The young life of Nathan Drake

Why was fresh-faced youngin' Tom Holland of all people chosen to play Nathan Drake? (This is what Nathan Fillion asks himself every night.) This casting choice goes all the way back to the Uncharted film's very beginning, when Avi Arad was lobbying hard for the film to be made. He then called Uncharted a "father and son game." Arad had apparently long-envisioned a take on Uncharted that would properly showcase the father-son, mentor-mentee relationship between Nathan Drake and Victor "Sully" Sullivan.

The film will be a prequel to the events of the games, inspired by a sequence from Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception where Sully takes on a young Drake as his treasure-hunting protege. Watching gameplay of a teenage Nathan Drake parkour around brings to mind a certain young actor who did some wall-crawling himself on the big screen. Think of the Uncharted movie as an origin story, wherein Sully teaches young Nate everything he knows, and Drake in turn schools Sully in a thing or two.

Coming December 2020 (we've heard that before)

It took just over a decade, but at last we have a release date that doesn't seem so tenuous. Sony has set a release date for December 18, 2020, just in time for the holidays. However, looking at Uncharted's long stay in development hell, we wouldn't be surprised if the film's release gets delayed for the umpteenth time, especially considering the fact that the project lost yet another director in August 2019. Sony may have spoken too soon. 

Director Dan Trachtenberg, who has cut his teeth on unsettling productions like 10 Cloverfield Lane and Black Mirror, is the fifth director to sign on and then leave the Uncharted production. Directing the Uncharted movie seems like a cursed position: like Harry Potter's Professor of the Dark Arts, those who try are doomed to fail. This is a wee bit of a bummer considering that Trachtenberg was a certified gamer.

Sully: Chris Hemsworth or Bryan Cranston, whose mustache will prevail?

We know who Nathan Drake is, but we're not yet sure who will serve as Victor "Sully" Sullivan, the other key part to this apparent prequel. For years there have been rumors whispered around the web that only the likes of Bryan Cranston could play Sully. He did a good job of playing mentor to Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, after all. There's also the fact that he can sport a helluva mustache, a requirement for a proper portrayal of Sully. However, there are other actors (and mustaches) being considered for the role. 

According to The Hashtag Show, the studio is eyeing Chris Hemsworth, Matthew McConaughey, Chris Pine, and Woody Harrelson. Could Holland and Hemsworth be reunited on the set of Uncharted? Maybe. The studio says that Sully should be between 40 and 49, "rugged and handsome, equal parts refinement and contagious charm." Emphasizing that bit about being handsome, young Sully "turns heads when he walks in a room." Any one of the aforementioned actors could fill that role, but we know that the real question here is: who grows the best mustache?

A knight in shining armor: a new director steps forward

Uncharted has yet another new director. We're hoping this one will stick around and actually, you know, direct the film, which has yet to start production. Our new knight in shining armor is Travis Knight, whose most recent work was the 2019 Transformers spinoff Bumblebee. We don't think that there's going to be giant fighting mechs in the Uncharted movie, don't worry. (Although that kind of sounds like a cool idea.)

The lion's share of Knight's experience comes from his tenure at the stop-motion animation studio Laika, where he served as lead animator. He's given his magic touch to Coraline, The Boxtrolls, and ParaNorman if you'd like a taste of his previous work. He directed the Laika project Kubo and the Two Strings, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Visual Effects at the 2016 Academy Awards. If you've seen any of these films, you know that Knight is well equipped to handle action. Let's hope he can handle Nathan Drake's story.