In an announcement made earlier today during a livestream — and less than a week before the official release of Gears of War 4 — Rod Fergusson, studio head for The Coalition, revealed that a Gears of War movie is in the works. The movie will be developed alongside Universal Pictures and will be produced by Scott Stuber (Ted, Central Intelligence).
Other details were few and far between, but one important point did emerge: The film — much like the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie — will not be an adaptation of any of the games. Fergusson explained this in a point that, frankly, is hard to argue:
“I think you have to let the movies be the movies. They’re two different mediums, and two different audiences in some cases, and I think some video game movies in the past have failed because they tried to make a movie for gamers. If you have this great IP with a deep backstory and lots of lore that you can make interesting stories out of it’s great, but if you just go after the gaming audience then it isn’t going to be a successful movie."
Movies Inherently Serve — And Are Judged By — A Different Audience
While Fergusson listed this as a secondary point, it's a big factor in creating a video game movie. After all, if you're a fan of the game itself, it's probably already going to have your attention. If you're a fan of good cinema who doesn't play video games at all, you're going to want to see a good movie, first and foremost.
More importantly, that is how the movie is going to be judged. The Warcraft movie recently attempted a sort-of variation of this strategy recently — taking most of the story from the original Warcraft games and adjusting for a wider audience — and it did not go well.
Why? You could certainly argue a couple different factors, but a big one was the reviews that game out absolutely bashing the film. Those who saw the movie for pure entertainment seemed to love it, mild flaws aside. Those who viewed it from a critical standpoint saw only the flaws. It wasn't a perfect film by any means, but its almost-50% variation between critical and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes definitely testifies to the effect reviews had on its box office success.
Being A Gamer Fan Doesn't Mean You Know All The Ins and Outs of 'Gears of War'
In this particular case, this one rings especially true to me. I haven't had an Xbox console since the original, but I will see a good film if it's a good film, regardless of source material.
I can be loyal to Nintendo and still see a Gears of War movie if it's written with non-Gears fans in mind. In fact, knowing from the get-go that it specifically won't be written as an adaptation of a game I haven't played and knowing nothing about has me more interested in seeing it.
And I don't mean that as a criticism of the game's writing or a dismissal of any potential for a good direct adaptation, but I do agree with Fergusson: You have to let movies be movies.
Ultimately, It Still Depends On What Movie Ends Up On The Big Screen
This isn't the first Gears of War movie that's been in the works. Back in 2007, New Line Cinema purchased the rights to make a movie based on the game. Have you seen it? No, you haven't. Because it didn't get made.
That's a struggle of movies in general, but especially of video game movies. For one reason or another, they suffer numerous delays, staff changes, and, more often than is good for the hearts of gamers, cancellations.
The approach being taken with this particular film sounds promising, but it's going to take more than a good concept to take off. Hopefully, for the movie and for gamers who haven't given up on a video game movie that blows away the box office, Gears of War's movie can make it over all the hurdles in its way.
What do you think of the Gears of War movie announcement?