Posted on June 5, 2019
7 Sony Franchises Itching For A Silver Screen Debut
Video game fans are all too familiar with the concept of movie-development hell. The Uncharted movie has been stuck between writers and directors for nine years, which is essentially 900 years in the game industry. Though Nathan Drake will soon see his day in Hollywood, countless other game franchises have fallen victim the same condition. To date, there are at least 24 announced video game film adaptations that have been untouched since 2016, including Tetris, Watch Dogs, and Fruit Ninja.
This video game adaptation vortex has only worsened over time. While many adaptations are announced, very few actually make it all the way to post-production. Even fewer perform well, both critically and commercially. That said, Sony Interactive Entertainment has decided to take matters into its own hands and develop films and TV shows in-house based on its own game properties. Although some are excited and many are skeptical, this is at least an opportunity to further the stories we love and bring a few classics back into the limelight.
Here are some PlayStation games we would love to see on the silver screen – excluding franchises already in active development under the new PlayStation Productions umbrella, such as Uncharted and Twisted Metal. This doesn’t mean we don’t want those films; we just don’t have to lie awake at night wondering if they’ll ever happen.
Shadow of the Colossus
The Pitch: Clash of the Titans, but lonelier.
Background: A movie adaptation of Shadow of the Colossus was announced in 2012, with the director of the most recent Fantastic Four film, Josh Trank, at the helm. While an epic blockbuster could comfortably fit a few colossi into a two-hour film, I think the Forbidden Land and its gargantuan inhabitants would be better represented through a TV series. There are 16 colossi in the game, each one perfectly suited to star in its own episode. Add a few more episodes for world-building and one or two for all the lizard hunting, and we have a rounded 20-episode series on our hands.
Premise: A sprawling, single-season epic following Wander as he conquers giant beasts to save his lost love is something you’d have to pay me not to watch. Each colossus is sure to provide some spectacular battles, and the quiet moments between could perfectly punctuate the action. Throw in the same plot twist from the end of the game, and I think you have a series that matches Team Ico’s majestic and melancholic masterpiece. Or maybe just make all 20 episodes all about the 13th Colossus. You know. Because it’s the best.
Who We Want: I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone better suited to helm this project than Jordan Vogt-Roberts. He’s already proven he can handle scale, as he directed the 2017 blockbuster Kong: Skull Island. He’s also breaking into TV with the upcoming Console Wars series. One aspect to this production is non-negotiable: Bring back Kow Otani to compose the soundtrack, or at least use some of his original score. His music perfectly suits the game, and its atmosphere is epic and enthralling enough for television. With these two working behind the scenes, a Shadow of the Colossus series should hold up to the wonder of its source material.
The Pitch: Spider-Man meets Fight Club.
Background: The Infamous movie began development in 2009, which was also the year it ended development. Sheldon Turner, screenwriter for X-Men: First Class, pitched a film to Sony Pictures with Marvel producers at his back, and he seemed excited about it. When asked for comment, Turner told Empire magazine “The game, while big and fun, is at its core a love ballad to the underachiever, which is what our hero, Cole McGrath, is.” He might be onto something.
Premise: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The story of Cole McGrath mirrors Spider-Man’s; the story of a nobody suddenly gaining superpowers and learning to overcome his mistakes sounds an awful lot like Peter Parker’s. Cole coming to grips with who he is, his battles with the mysterious Kessler, and his ultimate powerlessness despite his gifts, however, are compelling enough to separate it from the web-slinger’s. The underdog formula isn’t new, but Cole’s origin and Kessler’s backstory add an interesting angle on the superhero genre. With its graphic-novel aesthetic and huge battles, this story has enough twists and turns to warrant a blockbuster adaptation with its original story intact.
Who We Want: Christopher Nolan could bring Empire City to life with ease. Complex heroes and villains with graphic novel-inspired cities are his bread and butter. If he can handle Batman, one of the most popular superheroes on the planet, he can handle Infamous. Cole McGrath could be played by an actor like Taylor Kitsch from X-Men Origins: Wolverine or Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. I didn’t know I wanted to see Jesse Pinkman shooting lightning out of his hands until now.
The Pitch: The Nightmare Before Christmas with the heart of Wreck-it Ralph.
Background: MediEvil has yet to go through the trials and tribulations of a movie adaptation. While the first MediEvil was released in 1998, a remake is slated for release this year, the name of Sir Daniel Fortesque once again entering the PlayStation canon. By the developer’s own admission, the original game was inspired by the art of The Nightmare Before Christmas, so why not come full circle and make MediEvil a film?
Premise: Sir Daniel Fortesque’s tale is that of a character who never got a chance to prove himself. When given a second life, he musters the courage to try again, and is eventually praised as the hero he knew he could be. That’s heartwarming animation gold! With Wreck-it Ralph-style themes and spooky, wacky, Tim Burton-like visuals, Sir Daniel could easily carry a feature-length film. We may even learn a lesson or two about courage and heroism along the way.
Who We Want: It’s easy to say Tim Burton should work on a film that’s inspired by his own work, but I want to go a different route and hand the keys to the kingdom of Gallowmere to The Incredibles and The Iron Giant director Brad Bird. He is a fantastic animation director with a strong notion of human emotion and an eye for action perfectly suited for MediEvil.
The Last of Us
The Pitch: The Road and Logan with fungus.
Background: Adapting a game with a narrative this deep and beloved is an immensely tall task, but The Last of Us film adaptation has already learned that. A film has been in development since at least 2013, with a script written by the game’s original author, Neil Druckmann. Since the announcement, the film has bounced from producer to producer and director to director, and many are afraid it won’t reach the same level of quality that the game achieved. Neil Druckmann has since stated that he hopes they don’t use his script for production, and who can blame him? How do you turn a narrative-rich 20-hour experience into a two-hour story?
Premise: The stories of the people who used to inhabit the places Joel and Ellie visit can prove to be as interesting as the main story; The Last of Us sets a bar for detailed environmental storytelling. If we apply this to a movie, the narrative can focus on the development of our two main characters and their complicated relationship, while production design handles the broader narrative of the world. The environment must tell the story that dialogue cannot. We still follow the pair as they travel across the country, and their relationship and struggles remain the focus. If the world tells a story as interesting Joel and Ellie’s, little has to be lost in translation from game to film. Everything will be condensed to fit feature-length, but that shortening will be in service of character development, not a reduction of it.
Who We Want: While the Logan comparisons are apt, director James Mangold sold me for this adaptation with his previous remake of the classic western 3:10 to Yuma. Mangold works well with long journeys between characters who don’t get along but end up emotionally attached. He has essentially made the Last of Us twice, except with cowboys and X-Men instead of clickers. He could even continue working with Hugh Jackman. He looks a bit like Joel and had practice in Logan playing the reluctant father figure. An unknown actress for Ellie could be a refreshing step forward as well. With the right amount of detail and love for the characters, I don’t think it is out of the question for this movie to be great.
Horizon Zero Dawn
The Pitch: Lord of the Rings adds Cavemen. And Robots.
Background: Like MediEvil, Horizon Zero Dawn has yet to get the movie treatment; the game is only two years old, after all. That said, the epic nature of hunting robot tigers and battling deathbringers in a post-apocalyptic far future is screaming for a big-budget production. However, there are so many quests, characters, and plot threads that the whole game could never fit into a single blockbuster. Why not a trilogy?
Premise: This three-film saga takes us on a journey of discovery, betrayal, and robots in the span of six or seven hours. The game is longer, but world exploration and side quests play into this immensely. After narrowing down side quests and turning exploration into a plot point, we can easily follow Aloy on a quest to learn about her past. Some of the characters from side quests can be instead featured along Aloy’s journey, with their narratives tangling with hers instead of being rest stops along the way. Nil, Vara, Erend, and others could be members of a merry (or, at times, not so merry) band traveling to defeat the Shadow Carja and learn the truth of the robots. There are enough reveals and character arcs that this sense of discovery in each installment could easily carry three films. A personal story of identity mixed with the broader story of the destruction of civilization can be intertwined with regional and tribal mythos, bringing the lore that can be found in the game to new audiences. Also, giant robot animals. That part is kind of important.
Who We Want: Rose Leslie, known for her work as Ygritte on Game of Thrones, is perfect for the part of Aloy. She did influence the character’s design, after all. As for directors, there are several who could fit the epic trilogy. Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, or Peter Jackson have the talent when it comes to directing action-packed, big budget films. If I had to choose, though, James Cameron and his work on Avatar has the kind of design and scale a Horizon Zero Dawn trilogy would need. As long as we get giant robots and an in-depth, cross-country adventure, I could rest easy.
The Pitch: Twilight Zone meets Brazil.
Background: In 2018, rumors flew about a Bloodborne movies from the Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. A lot of the coverage around those rumors asked the same question: How could you possibly adapt Bloodborne, a 40-hour Lovecraftian nightmare with one of the most cryptic plots in games, into a movie? We have the answer for you.
Premise: Imagine an anthology TV series à la Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, where each episode focuses on a new character or location within Yharnam. Lore hunters know there are tons of interesting characters each with their own separate story. The only issue is, putting these together into a cohesive narrative isn’t easy. So why even try? Take Father Gascoigne, for example. An episode could follow his family and his work as a hunter leading to his inevitable turn into the beast we fought in the game. Through the characters of the game, Gascoigne, Arianna and Adella, even the Doll, we’d learn more about the remains of Yharnam. Watching the exploits of the player’s Hunter through the eyes of its inhabitants could make for some of the creepiest, saddest, and fascinating television out there.
Who We Want: Bryan Fuller should run this one. His work on Hannibal and American Gods led to some incredible television, and his twisted visions could bring plague-ridden Yharnam to television. I just desperately want to see some of the horrifying creatures come to life.
God of War
The Pitch: Hercules meets 300.
Background: A draft for a God of War film has been handed around Sony for more than a year with a lot of speculation and rumor surrounding it. The current script was reportedly being penned by Saw alums Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton. Daredevil showrunner Steven S. DeKnight wants to direct, and he wants Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista as Kratos. This adaptation is rumored to be brutal, with less focus on the story from the games and more focus on Kratos’ background. This might not be a bad idea.
Premise: By the time Sony Santa Monica started work on the recent God of War, Kratos desperately needed a character overhaul. The newest game did exactly that by giving Kratos a second chance at life, maturing him and making him more human. That said, this new Kratos is not the Kratos for film; we need to earn that Kratos by learning more about who he was before the events of the new game. Start with the original setting of God of War and show young Kratos as a Spartan general who gives his soul to Ares, then show his descent into rage and his crusade against the Gods. These events are the foundation that earns the character development we saw in the newest God of War. We’ll get to Norse mythology, Atreus, Freya, and the like, but we have to start at the beginning.
Who We Want: Steven S. DeKnight isn’t a bad choice for this film. His work on the acclaimed hallway fight in Daredevil season 1 is of note, as are the massive fight scenes in Pacific Rim: Uprising, which he directed. He has an eye for both large and small scale combat, perfect for the Gods and heroes Kratos lays waste to. As for Kratos, the fan-favorite Jason Momoa seems like a good fit, both in size and voice. An image circulated in 2018 portraying the Aquaman actor as Kratos, showing him fit to wear the beard. Slap some white and red on him, give him the blades of chaos, and set him loose on Olympus.
For more on video game adaptation, check out our list of 14 Universal films we want to see adapted into video games or our look at Oscar nominated films and their game adaptations.