June 2nd, 2010

the mark

didn't want that movie anyway

Solid Snake's Voice Actor On Collapse of Metal Gear Movie:
Sources close to the project previously told Kotaku that reason for the movie not happening was money. Sony Pictures was willing to finance somewhere between $40 million ~ $80 million for the film; however, Kojima Productions and Konami balked, believing that the figure was not enough to create a proper cinematic version of the game. By today's standard, the budget would have put Metal Gear Solid at the lower end of the production scale. For comparison's sake, Sony Pictures film Spider-Man 3 had a $300 million budget.

"Video game companies are very protective of their property and there are certain things a studio requires freedom-wise to market and distribute a movie effectively in a global marketplace and sometimes getting those two things to match up is really hard," says producer Michael De Luca, who was slated to produce the film. "And in the case of Metal Gear Solid, the agendas just….not because the parties weren't amicable, it was just kind of impossible to get the agendas to match up."

I think we've seen this happen enough times by now to say there's a trend at work. The Mario Brothers movie was pretty awful, as was Doom, and this is the second big-name video game movie that's crashed and burned in as many years. Aside from the money, I think there's a couple of other things at work here that people aren't mentioning for fear of torpedoing the concept of video game-to-movie conversions once and for all. Since I don't give a rat's ass whether I ever see the Command and Conquer movie though, I'll take a stab at it.

The best video games immerse you in the experience of being the main character, or allow you to operate at a level that most of us will never get to be on IRL. You get to choose what happens, not some scriptwriter, and this makes all the difference. And you can do it as often as you want without having to pay $8 for a ticket. Immersion and choice. The first is something you don't often get from Hollywood any more, and the second is flat-out impossible with current movie technology.

Finally, it's a fallacy to think that because comic books have made a largely successful (i.e. profitable) transition to the big screen, that the same can be done with video games. Wrong. Comic books are short stories, profusely illustrated and relatively easy to convert to live-action spectaculars, especially now that CGI has become cheap enough to make all kinds of FX easy to do and credible to watch. The best video games are novels, interactive novels with lush backgrounds and story lines that suck you into the plot. I firmly believe that we're more likely to see a movie or TV adaptation of Megatokyo or Erfworld before we see HALO or any other video game on the big screen, because it'll be a lot easier to do even an insanely complicated plot on screen than it would be to make something accurately reproducing the Master Chief experience.
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Reading this and similar blog posts in other places over the last decade makes me realize that I was lucky. Damned lucky. Either that, or I still don't realize how deep in the swamp I am.