The Renaissance of TV to Game Adaptions
Ever since the arrival of the Super Mario Bros movie in 1993, the opinions on video game adaptions to films and TV show platforms have been low. From the perspective of this early example, it makes sense as what The Atlantic calls the “Dazzling Failures” of this translation were readily apparent. Since that point, the works of the most prolific creators in the realm such as Uwe Boll have continued to tarnish expectations, with games only recently seeing some form of justice in their movies and TV show counterparts.
Today, the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog and The Witcher (let’s face it, the games had more to do with this than the books) are beloved by a massive international market. With further new series like Halo and The Last of Us on the horizon, we’re seeing a renaissance of gaming adaptions like never before. So, what was it that got in the way of quality game-to-movie/TV show adaptations for so long, and why are we only now seeing titles fulfill their potential?
The Many Forms of Gaming Translations
Enjoying mainstream success since the 1980s, the market has long been filled with attempts to capitalize on the success of gaming by replicating its appeal within other industries. Some of these adaptations have resulted in widespread success, while others have struggled to resonate with audiences or have stretched the concept of the original source material beyond its natural limits.
Perhaps the most natural extension of video game properties is basic merchandising efforts like branded clothes and collectibles. Though these have always existed as a way to extend public visibility, modern demand has pushed this market to unprecedented heights. One of the strongest illustrations of this is found in Funko pops, as listed by Pop Vinyls. There are hundreds on offer, and since they’re simple stylized versions of existing characters, they’re hard to get wrong. While these illustrate an already developed market, there are coming markets that hold significant potential crossovers too.
Taking another direction are smaller interactive spinoffs in a different form of entertainment, the likes of which are popular on the Casino Betway website. So far, licensed versions of the properties tend to revolve around movies, but they could soon see significant growth in other areas too. Titles like the Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones slots are popular enough that translations via this avenue always start with a leg up. As we’ve seen with the Bob’s Burgers and Walking Dead board games explored by Variety, there’s ample demand for quality interactive systems outside of the traditional, so this seems an area ripe for expansion
With so many of these efforts ending in such noteworthy success, it was only natural that screen and video game markets will continue to expand. Of course, to understand why this market is still developing, we need to explore why good screen adaptions took so long.
Games to Movies and TV
After the original Super Mario Bros, it was difficult for video games in movies and television to be taken seriously. Big thanks for this have to go to filmmakers like Boll, who we’ve covered before here at Entertainment Wise. His projects like 2005’s Alone in the Dark and 2007’s In the Name of the King won numerous worse film awards, further coloring the perspective on what was possible with video games.
There were, however, some standouts that, while not great, still performed well. Angelina Jolie’s version of Lara Croft in the 2001 and 2003 movies were commercial successes. Making a combined $435 million from a total budget of $210 million proved there was definitely potential to be explored. As we noted in this Entertainment Wise article, Jolie even became a fan of the games, which have since gone on to see reboots starring Alicia Vikander.
With such back and forth, audiences knew there was potential in video game adaptions, it was just a matter of finding those who could open the floodgates. The answer came from the changing culture of filmmaking, and a new generation of writers, producers, and stars.
A New World
Movies and TV are big businesses. Revolving around financial incentives, it’s only natural that anyone with their finger on the pulse would try to involve video games in this landscape. After all, video games are worth more than films and music combined, so this seems like a match made in heaven.
The problem is that those hollow efforts might succeed financially, but they’ll harm the overall perception of the video game and screen market. As we covered in our Entertainment Wise article on the Kim Kardashian game, individual ventures can easily succeed. For long-lasting success, however, maintaining quality has to be the key.
To ensure quality, you can’t have projects built on a surface appreciation. Projects need to be built on a solid foundation by those with understanding and passion, and for the new generation, this is what the filmmaking world offers. Many of those working in film and television today grew up with video games, they love the properties dearly, and they don’t see them as a simple means to an end.
Unlike the teams behind the original Super Mario Bros movie, or practically anything from Boll, new video game adaptations are made by people who care about the way the source material is perceived. They don’t want to rely on games, they want to add to them, enhancing the original story arcs and characters with the tools available via a new visual platform. Though this doesn’t guarantee every release is a hit, it does at least mean that the new generations of titles will cater better to fans, and that’s a development gamers can’t help but appreciate.
With so many new adaptions hitting our screens in the next few years, there’s never been a more exciting time for fans of video games on the big and little screens. What we’ll see could set the tone for an entirely new generation of media, leading to potential evolution as the Marvel movies sparked back with Iron Man. The only question is, can the new Super Mario movie overcome the legacy of the old one? If this article by Collider is any indication, we could be in for something special.