- “The Witcher”/Netflix
- Video games have carved out a niche in Hollywood; there are two video game adaptations scheduled for release this year, and more than a dozen others in production.
- “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” grossed an estimated $58 million in theaters during its opening weekend in May, nearly topping the Avengers. “Resident Evil” is the highest-grossing video game movie franchise of all time, with more than $1.2 billion in worldwide earnings.
- In spite of mostly terrible reviews, other recent video-game-based movies like “Rampage,” “Warcraft,” and “Assassin’s Creed” have seen high international earnings, perhaps thanks to their recognizable brands.
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There’s no denying the impact video games have on pop culture. But despite decades’ worth of attempts, only a handful of movies and TV shows have been successful in bringing the fun of gaming to the screen.
“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” enjoyed a big opening weekend in May, generating an estimated $58 million in revenue. The film nearly earned enough to knock Disney blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” out of the top spot in the box office. Starring “Deadpool” actor Ryan Reynolds as the titular character, the film was inspired by the story of the “Detective Pikachu” video game released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2016, and features dozens of iconic Pokémon in live-action for the first time.
In contrast, a trailer for the upcoming “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie starring Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz was completely lampooned by fans. The public response was so bad that the film’s producer promised to revise Sonic’s design for the final release.
“Rampage, “Warcraft,” and “Assassin’s Creed,” three recent big-budget films adapted from video games, were all commercial and critical failures in the US, but managed to take advantage of their recognizable brands to earn hundreds of millions of dollars overseas. Their performance suggests there remains a market for video game movies, no matter what the critics say.
That means even more movies based on video games are on the way. Sony recently confirmed production on a live-action series based on “Final Fantasy XIV” and at least two more video game-based movies are scheduled for release this year, including Netflix’s adaptation of “The Witcher” starring Henry Cavill.
There are nearly 20 upcoming video-game movies and TV series to look out for:
“Angry Birds Movie 2” (August 2019)
- YouTube / Screenshot
This year will mark the the 10th anniversary of “Angry Birds,” the smash-hit mobile game that has grown into a monster licensing vehicle. While the “Angry Birds” fad is over, the characters do still have their fans.
The first “Angry Birds” movie is actually the third-highest-grossing video game movie of all time, having earned more than $352 million at the box office worldwide. Only “Warcraft” and “Rampage” have earned more.
“The Witcher” (Netflix, 2019)
- “The Witcher”/Netflix
“The Witcher” has quietly become one of the most impressive action-adventure gaming franchises on the planet, with a robust fantasy setting and engaging story. Now Netflix is producing a “Witcher” series starring Superman actor Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, the titular Witcher. The franchise is based on a series of books and short stories from the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, giving the Netflix show plenty of material to draw from.
Get your first look at Henry Cavill in The Witcher! pic.twitter.com/1O2eWS1MkP
— Netflix US (@netflix) October 31, 2018
“Sonic the Hedgehog” (February 2019)
Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most iconic video game characters in the world, and after multiple cartoon series and nearly three decades’ worth of games, he’ll be getting a live-action film in early 2020
So far, fans have been less than pleased with Sonic’s live-action look, but director Jeff Fowler said the production team has delayed the film to revisit the hero’s final design. Sonic will be voiced by Ben Schwartz of “Parks & Recreation,” with the legendary comedian Jim Carrey playing Sonic’s nemesis, Dr. Robotnik.
— Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 24, 2019
“Uncharted” (December 2020)
- PlayStation/Naughty Dog
“Spider-Man” actor Tom Holland will star in a movie based on PlayStation’s popular “Uncharted” series. The premise of “Uncharted” is similar to the iconic “Indiana Jones” franchise and stars wise-cracking hero Nathan Drake.
Holland is much younger than Drake is in the games, but perhaps that will make the film version of “Uncharted” seem a bit less like an “Indiana Jones” reboot. The film is scheduled for a 2020 release date.
“Monster Hunter” (2020)
- “Monster Hunter: World”/Capcom
As the name suggests, “Monster Hunter” games are all about tracking, fighting, and capturing all sorts of beasts across several fantasy lands. Players design their own characters, and there’s generally very little in the way of story throughout the “Monster Hunter” series.
The movie in production stars Milla Jovovich, who’s best known for her role as Alice in “Resident Evil,” another adaptation of a video game made by Capcom – the same developer that makes the “Monster Hunter” franchise.
So MONSTER HUNTER is starting to look… interesting? pic.twitter.com/vcY6aA3lSS
— Bob Chipman (@the_moviebob) January 17, 2019
- Sony Pictures
Since its debut in 2002, the “Resident Evil” movie franchise has been largely lampooned by critics, but it remains the highest-grossing series of video game movies to date.
The six “Resident Evil” films have generated a total of $1.2 billion in revenue worldwide with the star Milla Jovovich and her husband, the director Paul W.S. Anderson. The last film in the series, 2016’s “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” earned $312.2 million on a $40 million budget.
Deadline reports that Netflix will work with the studio behind the movies, Constantin Film, to develop a “Resident Evil” TV series. It’s unclear whether the series will reboot the franchise or serve as a tie-in to the films. The writer and director Johannes Roberts was previously linked to a reboot film.
“Minecraft the Movie”
With more than 100 million copies sold worldwide, “Minecraft” is without question one of the most popular games of all time. Mojang, the Microsoft subsidiary behind the game, has been trying to get a “Minecraft” movie into production for years. The project has seen multiple directors come and go, however, making it hard to get off the ground.
But in January 2019, Warner Bros. announced it had tapped Peter Sollett, the director of “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” to helm the movie. As of now, “Minecraft” has a March 4th, 2022 release date.
- Bethesda Softworks
If you’re a fan of video game movie adaptations, “Doom” may sound familiar. The series was adapted into a 2005 movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, before he became Hollywood’s biggest star.
The premise of the “Doom” games is simple: All Hell has broken loose on Mars – literally – and the player is cast as a monster-slaying machine known only as the Doomguy on his way to escape.
Universal Studios’ new “Doom” movie will apparently subvert the games’ hyper-masculine tone by placing the actress Amy Manson in the starring role.
“Call of Duty”
- Sledgehammer Games/Activision
“Call of Duty” is the best-selling video game franchise of all time, and it has set the bar for just about every military-related video game released during the past 10 years. The series is focused on war stories, spanning decades of American military history, with some even expanding into futuristic space combat.
The “Call of Duty” movie is under the helm of Stefano Sollima, the director of “Sicario” and its sequel, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” Sollima has shown a penchant for modern gunplay and urban combat in both of those films, suggesting that the film may opt for a more present-day setting, rather than the World War II backdrop of the earlier games in the series.
“Tom Clancy’s The Division”
- “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2″/Ubisoft
“Tom Clancy’s The Division” is a postapocalyptic shooting game pitting players against one another and a corrupt government. The plot seems ripe for adaptation, as postapocalyptic narratives like “The Walking Dead” and “The 100” have become popular. People apparently recognize the potential for human drama at the end of the world.
While “The Division” isn’t exactly “Red Dawn,” the story lends itself to a thoroughly patriotic narrative that would fit perfectly into an action movie.
- “Sleeping Dogs”/Square Enix
“Sleeping Dogs” was a sleeper hit when it came out in 2012. The game plays like a mix between “Grand Theft Auto” and the Jackie Chan movie “Rush Hour,” and it joyfully turns the city of Hong Kong into a playground.
The martial artist and actor Donnie Yen, of “Ip Man” and “Iron Monkey,” will star as the undercover cop Wei Shen, and he’s shared multiple pictures of himself playing the role. Yen has said the film is still in production and has urged fans to be patient.
“Devil May Cry” (Netflix)
Unlike the other adaptations on this list, the “Devil May Cry” Netflix series will be animated in 2D.
The executive producer Ari Shankar revealed his plans to adapt the demon-hunting video game into an animated series in late 2018. Shankar previously worked on Netflix’s “Castlevania,” another animated video game adaptation, which has been celebrated by fans and critics alike. Shankar has hinted that the two series could cross over in some way.
“Uncharted” seems like an obvious choice for a movie adaption, if only because the games themselves feel like a spiritual successor to “Indiana Jones.” The explorer Nathaniel Drake frequently runs afoul of mercenaries and collectors as he chases rare artifacts, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a way to make this into a movie.
The “Spider-Man: Homecoming” actor Tom Holland is said to be playing the lead role in the coming film.
“Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six”
“Rainbow Six” is a squad-based shooting game franchise, inspired by the Tom Clancy novel of the same name. The novel follows a team of counterterrorism operatives as they embark on a variety of missions.
Paramount Pictures is planning multiple “Rainbow Six” films, with the “Black Panther” and “Creed” actor Michael B. Jordan in a starring role as the Rainbow Six commander John Clark. The first film, “Without Remorse,” will tell Clark’s origin story, followed by a sequel, called “Rainbow Six.”
“Dynasty Warriors: Destiny of an Emperor”
- “Dynasty Warriors 9″/Koei Techmo Games
“Dynasty Warriors” is a series of hack-and-slash games that tell a (very) dramatized history of China’s Three Kingdoms period. While the games have mostly fallen out of favor in the West, there seems to be enough investment in the franchise for the Chinese studio China 3D Digital Entertainment Limited to produce a film.
The movie is due out during 2019, and an early trailer matches the bombastic tone of the games.
“Final Fantasy XIV”
- “Final Fantasy XIV”/Square Enix
Sony Pictures Television and Hivemind, the production company behind Amazon’s “The Expanse” and Netflix’s adaptation of “The Witcher,” are planning to create a new live-action series based on “Final Fantasy XIV” – a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game that first launched in 2013.
The “Final Fantasy” franchise is filled with iconic characters and the world of Eorzea will provide a rich setting for the upcoming series.
- 343 Industries/Microsoft
“Halo” was once the crown jewel of video game science fiction, with an extended universe fueled by novels and short films supporting the games. “Halo 4” and “Halo 5” weren’t as popular as the first three, however, and the franchise has somewhat faded in the public eye.
But the “Halo” machine is still rolling, and Showtime expects a 10-episode series starring series the protagonist Master Chief to air in 2020. We’re expecting more details on “Halo Infinite,” the next game in the franchise, later this year, too.
- “Mega Man 11″/Capcom
Like Sonic, Mega Man has enjoyed numerous cartoon and comic book adaptations. While Mega Man games have grown less common over the years, the series is seeing a bit of a rebirth with last year’s “Mega Man 11.”
20th Century Fox has optioned the character for a live-action movie written and directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. The pair previously worked together on MTV’s “Catfish,” from 2012 to 2016.
“Super Mario Bros.”
Super Mario is synonymous with video games for many people, but Nintendo has typically been protective of its mascot when it comes to crossovers and adaptations. In January 2018, Nintendo announced that it would partner with Illumination, the studio behind “Despicable Me” and “Minions,” to create an animated “Super Mario Bros.” movie.
Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, will serve as a co-producer on the film.