It's both an exciting and frustrating time to be a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series. Until recently, there were high hopes that the long-awaited third installment Kingdom Hearts III would be released sometime in 2017 — however, news of a delay in the release of the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Prologue set has fans concerned that #KingdomHearts3 will also be delayed.
In September, gamers were given another interesting piece of news: Takeshi Nozue, director of the recently released Kingsglaive: Final Fanasy XV film, stated in an interview that a Kingdom Hearts movie would be possible, if there was sufficient fan demand for it. Nozue has previous experience with the Kingdom Hearts franchise, having worked on the cinematic sequences for the first two games.
I have no doubt that the demand for a film is there, but the question remains: Is it really a good idea?
Weighing Up The Pros
1. A Kingdom Hearts Film Has The Potential To Reach A Wide Audience
If this film were to ever see the light of day, it could easily attract a variety of filmgoers. Aside from people who played the games and loved them, it would attract #Disney fans of every age, who would flock to the theater to see their favorite Disney characters on screen. #FinalFantasy fans, even those who haven't played Kingdom Hearts, are likely to see the film if their favorite FF character is one of those featured.
With such wide appeal, a Kingdom Hearts film would be insanely easy to market, and almost a guaranteed hit.
2. The Games Feature Great Sequences That Could Be Easily Adapted For Film
All the ingredients for a potentially awesome film are present in the original Kingdom Hearts. The game is story driven and features an engaging cast of lovable heroes, as well as frightening villains. With a gripping plot just ripe for adaptation, all that is really needed to turn it into a serviceable film is to add a few bridging scenes, and script and choreograph a few epic battle sequences.
If the film is animated — which I strongly suspect it would be — the animators have a great reference point in the game's original cinematic scenes, which have stood the test of time, especially for a game approaching its 15th anniversary. In fact, with some minor tweaks and polishing, they could slot right into a potential film.
3. Kingdom Hearts Comes With A Ready-Made All-Star Cast
Every game in the series is bursting with awesome voice talent, starting with our favorite classic Disney characters. Wherever possible, the games use the characters' original voice actors, so it makes sense that trend would continue with the proposed films. Indeed, the game's original characters also feature a number of well-known voices, like Haley Joel Osment as protagonist Sora.
1. It's A Huge, Complicated Story
The Kingdom Hearts series consists of eight games across a number of platforms, and that's without counting the multiple extended Final Mix editions. The story is nonlinear, consisting of prequels, sequels and midquels. While the plot of one game may be simple enough to adapt for film, the story of the series as a whole may not. Things could get real complicated, real fast.
It is probably unrealistic to expect that every Kingdom Hearts game, particularly side stories like 358/2 Days, would get the full film treatment. However, some elements of that game are vital to truly understanding the full KH story. The way around this would likely be to incorporate the most important plot points from 358 into scenes and flashbacks during a film based on one of the main series games, most likely Kingdom Hearts II.
Crucial though these scenes may be, they would take up precious screen time, and sadly, films, unlike video games, do not have 24 hours in which to cram their story. Which means..
2. There Will Be Cuts
As unrealistic as it is to expect every game to be made into a film, it is even more unrealistic to expect that every world, character and subplot featured in the games would make it to the big screen. It is simply impossible to fit everything into a run time of two hours or more, but probably less if Kingdom Hearts is marketed as a film for the whole family.
So, there will be cuts. This is where the lucky scribe chosen to pen a Kingdom Hearts movie may run into trouble. What do you cut? A world that no one really liked yet revealed major plot points, or a world that players loved, but offers little as far as moving the story forward? If you cut the plot-important world, how easy is it to work those plot points back in somewhere else?
Yes, Kingdom Hearts has a huge cast of characters, and just about all of them are someone's favorite. You could write new material to justify keeping a fan favorite in, but what else has to be sacrificed so that can happen?
One thing's for sure. If there is a Kingdom Hearts film in the works, the team in charge will have one hell of a job getting it right.