Despite being kicked around by most critics, Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth in that series of videogame ‘adaptations’, crossed the $10 million mark at the international box office this weekend. Sure, it’s generally regarded that these types of movies are poor based on past experience (both Tomb Raiders, Street Fighter… pretty much any of them), and many are quick to blame the subject matter itself. That’s not the problem, though. It’s the people involved.
One of the more promising game-to-movie projects of recent years was the Halo movie adaptation, to be overseen by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill Blomkamp, but fears of escalating costs saw it lose support. Most videogame adaptations are budgeted on the lower-risk side – this year’s Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time was a rare example of the budget exceeding $100 million, and given that it wasn’t a massive hit for Disney, don’t expect there to be another one soon. There’s no guarantee that Halo would’ve been a brilliant movie, yet it had promise – very few game adaptations that actually make it into the cinema can boast the same.
A nice parallel to videogame movies is the rise of comic book films – had Spider-Man never happened, the early part of the last decade wouldn’t have been littered with so many pictures built with the same intent. The difference is, videogames have never had a movie that’s both a commercial and critical hit, and so the assumption remains that it’s a dead end for all involved.
One successful movie could change all that, however. Could it be the long-gestating Sam Raimi-helmed World Of Warcraft flick? We’ll see. For now, though, it’s obvious videogame movies justify their lousy reputation. We just hope it doesn’t remain that way forever – there’s a lot of potential if studios could only pick the right projects, and hire the right people.