For decades, video game adaptations have been ridiculed for failing to live up to the games that inspired them, or by the way they flopped at the box office. That changed in a big way this year, including the recent premiere of Five Nights At Freddy’swhich defied expectations and had a huge opening weekend despite being available on Peacock on the same day.
Many of the best video games were already been optioned as films and TV shows prior to 2023. But if there was ever a time to capitalize on the trend, it’s now. The Hollywood strikes are over, and video games are an IP mine that the studios haven’t fully exploited yet. And for our money, these are the seven video game adaptations that we can’t wait to see.
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Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to adapt BioShock almost since its release in 2007 with little to show for it. Director Gore Verbinski was attached to the project for several years, but he clashed with Universal when the studio wanted him to tone down the R-rating and scale back his planned $200 million adaptation to around $80 million. Verbinski ultimately left the project, and it floundered in development hell.
More recently, The Hunger Games‘ Francis Lawrence signed on to direct a BioShock feature for Netflix with Blue Eye Samurai co-creator Michael Green writing the script. It’s unclear what Lawrence and Green plan to do with the film, but there’s ample material to draw from. The first two games take place in the underwater city known as Rapture, which is overrun by genetically enhanced (and insane) humans.
The third game, BioShock Infinitehas more compelling characters including Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth, as well as a whole new city to explore called Columbia, which is suspended in the sky. Either setting has the making of a great movie, if it’s done with respect to the source material.
Metal Gear Solid
Since 1998, Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid and its sequels have been praised for their cinematic visuals and engrossing stories. It’s like an action movie come to life. The problem with bringing that story to Hollywood as a movie is that the game can play out in perhaps five to 10 hours depending on the skill level of the player and the length of the game. But theatrical movies tend to only have two hours to work with, and it will be a real challenge to boil down this game’s story to that short runtime.
Sony is currently developing Metal Gear Solid as a starring vehicle for Oscar Isaac, with Jordan Vogt-Roberts set to direct. But there hasn’t been any update of substance about this project since 2020. In other words, don’t hold your breath for it.
Alan Wake has a premise that’s just irresistible. In the game, Alan is a best-selling horror novelist who is desperately trying to find his missing wife while his latest book comes to life around him. Essentially, Alan is becoming the lead character of his own horror story, and it may not end well for him.
The games are already set up like episodes of a TV show, so it’s unsurprising that Alan Wake has been optioned for television. AMC has the rights to adapt the games, and that cable network already got a lot of mileage out of The Walking Dead. Alan Wake doesn’t need multiple spinoffs, it just needs one great show.
God of War
The God of War games are being adapted as a TV series by Amazon Prime Video. So it will likely go into production. However, the early reports indicate that Prime Video plans to sidestep the most compelling aspects of Kratos’ backstory. The first God of War game chronicled Kratos’ quest to defeat Ares to avenge himself for the death of his family. God of War II and God of War III revealed that Kratos was Zeus’ son, and his ultimate destiny was to kill the Greek pantheon after Zeus betrayed him.
That’s the TV series that we should be getting. Instead, Sony and Prime Video are taking their cues from the 2018 God of War game, which featured an older Kratos as the surviving parent of his son, Atreus, in the realm of the Norse gods. It’s a great story in its own right, but telling only half of Kratos’ history is doing a disservice to God of War.
Ghost of Tsushima
Sony has given PlayStation gamers a lot of unforgettable solo-player titles, including Ghost of Tsushima. In this game, players assume control of a samurai warrior named Jin Sakai in 1274 during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. As the last living member of his clan, Jin has to find a way to retake Tsushima Island from its conquerors.
John Wick director Chad Stahelski has signed on to helm Ghost of Tsushima for Sony Pictures, so there’s a good chance that this movie will eventually happen.
Dragon’s Lair was one of the most innovative arcade games of 1983 because it put players in control of the fate of an animated heroic knight, Dirk the Daring, during his quest to rescue Princess Daphne from an evil dragon. These days, we would call that an interactive movie. The game was also morbidly hilarious as Dirk would suffer some very gruesome deaths if players made one wrong movie.
Former Disney animator Don Bluth was the leading creator of Dragon’s Lairand he has been attempting to interest studios in a full-length animated feature for years. Netflix also has the rights to create a live-action adaptation of Dragon’s Lairwith Ryan Reynolds attached to play Dirk. Given Reynolds’ involvement, that will probably come to pass.
The Legend of Zelda
Thanks to the success of The Super Mario Bros. MovieNintendo is ready to tackle an even more ambitious adaptation. Earlier this month, Sony and Nintendo announced that a Legend of Zelda live-action film is in development, with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes director Wes Ball helming the movie.
The Zelda games are one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, and it’s also one of the most beloved series of roleplaying games going back to 1986. The chronology of the games is convoluted, but if the movie can capture the essence of Link, Zelda, and the incredible world of Hyrule, it could have Mario-like box office. But only if the movie is anywhere near as good as the games are.