Gears of Hollywood

Why is it that all the coffee shops in my neighbourhood - which is pretty damn central - shut their doors at six o’clock in the afternoon? Is it a generally accepted rule that people shouldn’t inject espresso in the evening? Have there been unfortunate ‘incidents’?

Anyway.

Gears of War is going to be a movie - big surprise.

If handled right - see yesterday’s post re 300 - I think this could be a fun movie. Dumb, yes, but fun. Big, strapping lads with even bigger, um, ‘guns’; a terrifying alien enemy; a post-apocalyptic setting; big explosions; uncomfortably homophobic jokes, betraying a love that goes deeper than simple camaraderie. Could work…given a large enough budget. And on some level, I do think it’s encouraging - despite the all-too-common end result - that Hollywood is so eager to adapt top selling video game properties to the silver screen. Why? Because games are slowly moving to the forefront of creativity when it comes to new ideas, new universes, new characters.

We’ve spoken to various people in various positions (from agents to producers) about bringing The Longest Journey and/or Dreamfall to the big (and small) screen, but it’s a difficult story to adapt, and it’d be hugely expensive. If it’s going to happen, I would - obviously - want it to be done well, and I’d rather have no movie than a lousy (or even mediocre) one. That could very quickly kill off any future interest in a game series, and no Hollywood parties or big sacks of cash could justify a premature end to the saga.


43 Responses to “Gears of Hollywood”

  • RaMa Says:

    That’s a wise move, Ragnar. I would really love to see a TLJ movie, but I won’t settle for a mediocre one either. Recreating even the city of Marcuria alone on the big screen would be a big challenge.

    Of course there’s also a possibility to go completely computer animated, but I think that to do that well, and in a certain amount of time, would be difficult too with a relatively smaal budget.

    Let’s first continue with Chapters, and then we’ll see :). Here’s hoping it will get a large amount of attention, sell huge amounts and get more people interested in playing (and buying!) TLJ and Dreamfall.

  • David Says:

    Stripping out having characters move across the screen (boy did running across the Venice bridgeworks or waiting for the paraplegic floater guy to come up to the top level get tiresome after a while) TLJ was perhaps 20+ hours of gameplay, which if chopped up into a 2 hour movie would divest it of what made it a great game: the paced, methodical way the story reveals itself.

    One of the more interesting reviews I read of DF was that for all its faults as a game, it still made for an extremely compelling and excellently made machinima. In fact, if you completely removed the gameplay elements, I’d probably still sit and watch through the entire story. In light of your recent moves to make episodic content, I wonder if that is the way to go with stories such as these: episodic machinima, video games and tv splitting the difference and meeting somewhere in between the two. A lightly-interactive (movement and dialogue choices, if that much) movie series, more or less. Maybe that will be the way to tap into that huge ‘casual gamer’/nongamer audience everybody seems to want to embrace.

    Just please no cheesy cable-tv miniseries, please. (viz. Earthsea, the Lathe of Heaven, Children of Dune, etc. etc. etc.)

  • Jonas Says:

    As long as it’s not made by Uwe Boll (featuring John Rhys-Davies as April Ryan)…

  • AndyW Says:

    I think you’re absolutely right Ragnar - do it well, or don’t do it at all.

    Personally, I can really see TLJ/Dreamfall as a TV series. So much more scope for storytelling in an eight or sixteen hour series than in a two hour movie. And with the sort of CGI animations that are making their way into TV lately, it might not be long before it’s even affordable. Would that be the way to go, I wonder? No live actors, just a mixture of hand and motion-captured animation?

    And fantasy does seem to sell well on TV.

    David’s idea of doing it as a machinima is fascinating, but I’m not entirely sure it’d be profitable. The piracy issues would be horrendous, and there may not be much of a market. At least with TV you are broadcasting to a huge audience, who are already used to paying for whatever content comes their way (either up-front through pay-per-view or subscription, or through taxation and the hidden cost of advertising). With machinima… well, you’d be trying to sell to an audience who are mostly used to downloading for free.

    And if you sold it as an interactive movie… isn’t that just another name for a roleplay game without combat? Or an adventure without puzzles?

    Come to think of it… any chance of seeing a Stark/Arcadia set single-player roleplay game? After all, RPGs are the other great home of strong storytelling. And I can’t see why building a character that can overcome difficulties in different ways wouldn’t work. You could get experience points by completing sections through whatever means you chose (combat, stealth, diplomacy), or even use an Elder Scrolls style skills-practising system.

    Of course, there is a problem right there in the idea of overcoming difficulties in different ways - a bit hard to create really strong set-piece events. Conversation is fine, you can write good dialogue with many different paths (if you have the budget), but the grand occasions in a story do rather require more limitations on a player-controlled character than the ideal RPG would allow.

    By the way, are there any MMORPGs that have strong, coherent stories, as with the classic Bioware or even the newer Obsidian single-player RPGs?

  • Elise Says:

    Hmm, maybe if TLJ or Dreamfall became movies it would bring more people to the games.

  • Dan Forever Says:

    I’ve toyed with the idea that TLJ/Dreamfall would make a good film trilogy in the same kind of scope of LotR.

    Of course that would be a hugely expensive undertaking, but well worth the effort imo =)

  • TLJ-lover Says:

    What about a TLJ tv-series? With 13 episodes;) I actually dreamed about this once:)

  • TLJ-lover Says:

    And by that I mean a good-quality tv-series. Like Lost…

  • GyRo567 Says:

    I finally saw Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children a week ago. It was the well acted, Japanese voice version, with English subtitles. I must say, the first half was amazing - brilliant even. Then all of the game characters suddenly started showing up in some of the cheesiest cameo-ish first appearance type things I’ve ever seen. The whole thing degenerated from there, and I started to remember why I usually hate Final Fantasy on most levels.

    If you make a movie about a game, there’s one very important thing that must be held higher than all else:
    This is a movie, not a visual companion. It must work for itself. It must feel as though it’s doing things for its own sake. It must not cater to the needs of the game. It must develop its own characters, regardless of whether or not they have the same traits as those in the game. And above all else, it absolutely must NOT let on that it is “based” on anything. EVER. The second Lord of the Rings admits that it is based on a book (outside of the credits) then it ceases to be the quintessential epic in movie form. It merely becomes a movie form of the quintessential epic.

    I really do hate references to previous releases in any kind of fiction. Except jestful stabs at George Lucas’ modern debacles, I like those. The Legacy of the Force series has a “Han Shot.” (no first - that implies somebody else did too) joke in every book so far.

  • Aidan Mowat Says:

    I think the only way it would work is if Ragnar had complete control; over it, writer, producer, It could be done ala FF spirit within style with funcom doing the all the work and just having a studio distribute it, but differently I say Ragnar would be the best person to adapt it.

  • TLJ-lover Says:

    A movie (or more) would be great!! And of course, Ragnar must have the control! :)

  • Lee Edward McIlmoyle Says:

    Hmmn. TLJ: The Movie. That would be nice, if it could be done extremely well. Somehow, I have difficulty imagining a movie production company with enough money and resources to do it right stepping forward for a property that wasn’t created in America. TLJ is partly based in a slightly futuristic America, so that works in your favour at least.

    Classic English stuff and some famous European and Asian stories have been adapted in the last decade or so, but they’re few and far between. I guess our best hope is for someone like a Peter Jackson or a Sam Raimi to come along and push for it. They are making an awful lot of fantasy movies these days, but so many of them seem to be either literary classics, or children’s books. Or both.

    Still, it would be nice to see.

  • yuriko Says:

    Actually Ragnar, I personally don’t want either a Dreamfall OR a The Longest Journey movie/tvseries at all, because I like to use my own imagination/experience when I play the games..

    No offence, but I don’t like the thought of having either April og Zoe as ”real” persons..

    (and this is coming from a person who still isn’t used to have another voice actor for April in Dreamfall, you know, in the Norwegian version)

  • Darkelve Says:

    How about a “comic” movie? (the word escapes me right now). Although I don’t think Disney would be happy with the ending we currently have :p

  • Darkelve Says:

    (by which, by the way, I’m NOT trying to say that Dreamfall’s story/theme is immature).

  • toremygg Says:

    How about a “comic” movie?

    Animated feature-lenght movie :P?

    Anyways, I lied earlier. I follow Ugly Betty pretty religiously as well. It’s on just after BSG (albeit on another channel). I love how it always takes out an extra stop compared to what you’d expect.

    And Ragnar; I’m afraid to comment on this in case it’s going to stop, but – three posts in three days? Are you home sick with the flu or something? (In which case I really should say “Get well soon”, but I probably won’t just to keep the posts coming.)

  • gormers Says:

    The first final fantasy movie were okey, but sold really bad and was a disaster for the makers. But the graphics where amazing (compared to the other movies like toy story 2) The film had nothing at all to do with the series I think.
    Anyway, yeah I totally understand, dreamfall would have required nearly as much as all the other big movies out there. But if dreamfall would have been adapted to an tv-show, WITH 3D animation or something, and with good actress, an inner wish from me would go true.
    Halo could have been interesting also.

  • gormers Says:

    “(and this is coming from a person who still isn’t used to have another voice actor for April in Dreamfall, you know, in the Norwegian version)”
    Yeah, what was up with that really? I mean did she like say that you guys had to pay her a few hundred thousand dollars if she was going to act in the game? Because you should have.

  • Thomas S. Says:

    Oh noes! My aim in my life is to become a movie director, and I have always wanted to adapt “The Longest Journey” and “Dreamfall” to the silver screen. Every time I have replayed the game I have thought of how the story would be best adapted to the screen (not that I actually believe I’d get the oportunity to make the movie). However, if “The Longest Journey” and “Dreamfall” was adapted to the screen then I would rush to the cinema to watch it. I see a couple of bumps in the road though. It is extremely difficoult to adapt such a deep plot, which means it can turn out extremely good or horribly bad.

  • KHH Says:

    Why is it that all the coffee shops in my neighbourhood - which is pretty damn central - shut their doors at six o’clock in the afternoon?

    Yeah, that is a disorder i’ve notised also. I think it’s called ‘Norway’ :)

    Hmmm… a TLJ movie…. sceptical ;)

  • Luga Says:

    The longest journey: The animated series, anyone? ^^

  • NLO Says:

    …Too bad my comment is awaiting moderation though…
    Anyone care to explain why? More than one link or something? Cause there’s only one.. Huge? True, but still only one… :P
    Anyway, it was the link to the PotC3 trailer
    ( http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/piratesofthecaribbeanatworldsend.html )
    (and this is in a “apeaking of hollywood” fashion)

  • NLO Says:

    Ooooh, *I* get it - “awaiting moderation” as in “awaiting deletion”?
    (my pre-previous post got deleted… ;) )

  • Padmé Says:

    Yay, a TLJ movie.
    While I do think this could be really really good, I have to admit that I love TLJ exactly the way it is right now, and have a hard time imagining it any other way.
    The best way I can think of is probably to find relatively unknown, but talented ( obviously ! ) actors - it really pisses me off sometimes to see actors who were obviously picked only to lure people to the cinema, and not necessarily for their suitability.
    Other than that, I totally agree, making 20+ hrs TLJ into a 2 1/2 hrs max. movie can prove to be tricky.

    If you write the script I’m sure it will turn out fine, but I wouldn’t trust just anyone with this. ^-^
    ( *imagines hollywood-ish screenwriter going : “ahhh, secondary character called cortez …*mumble* …. wel, doesn’t really appear that often .. *mumble* …let’s just forget he ever existed, and we’ll save time and money* :P )

    Hmmm … I’d probably be way happier with a book - any chance we’ll get that ?

  • NLO Says:

    Hey! It appeared again! Magic!

    ….ok… nevermind me… This site confuses me…
    This is my now, 4th comment in a row then? If so, so sorry for the emotional pain I may have caused for anyone reading this blog. (Please don’t sue btw…)
    Oh, and I’ll use this chance to correct my typo in the comment before my last one where it should’ve (why is this underlined??) said “speaking of Hollywood”. Sadly, there was an ‘a’ instead of the ’s’ there…
    ;)

  • Martin Says:

    “no Hollywood parties or big sacks of cash could justify a premature end to the saga.”
    :D

    *Man kisses*

  • David Mouse Says:

    “uncomfortably homophobic jokes, betraying a love that goes deeper than simple camaraderie.”

    Just because it’s deeper than cameraderie doesn’t mean it’s romantic/sexual. Haven’t you heard of friendship. It can be no less deep than romance, but it’s different.

  • Kaltano Says:

    Yea as Jonas says keep Uwe Boll away from the project if it does get a green light, how that man keeps getting all the video game licenses when he routinely makes crap movies escapes my understanding. The fact that he wanted to take on his critics in the boxing ring as a way to defend his movies i found extremely laughable, somehow he thinks that him beating down people who say his movies suck will make them…. not?

  • Kaltano Says:

    -“uncomfortably homophobic jokes, betraying a love that goes deeper than simple camaraderie.”-

    “Just because it’s deeper than cameraderie doesn’t mean it’s romantic/sexual. Haven’t you heard of friendship. It can be no less deep than romance, but it’s different.”

    Subtlety mixed with Dry Humor is lost on some people at times it seems.

  • Andrei Says:

    Hey, yeah, TLJ could be done in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. That is, totally computer animated, but with super high quality.

    Did you try that, Ragnar? Talk to some Japanese animation companies or something. (Why Japanese? cause I just adore them…)

  • vellocet Says:

    Would love to see a TLJ movie, but it would have to be done right. I’m not entirely sure that it could.

    Just because a story is good, does not necessarily mean that it is a good story in all mediums. Look at Neil Gaiman’s stuff, arguably some of the best comic book and novel work out there, but his television and movie forays have been less than stellar (even though Mirrormask was okay).

    Part of what make Stark and Arcadia so incredible is that you get to explore it and become familiar with it. Something that is very difficult to do in a linear story. Add to that character development (of some amazingly deep characters) and you have a ton of stuff to cover in a 2-3 hour movie.

  • GyRo567 Says:

    Both Peter Jackson’s CGI team and Pixar are currently better than anything seen in either Final Fantasy movie. Cars and King Kong are the modern technical marvels. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, not only were there occasionally awkward animations, but there were also low resolution textures in one or two spots. That is unacceptable.

  • Marie Says:

    To be honest, I’m not sure I’d like to see The Longest Journey come to the big screen. I mean, I just really don’t see any point I guess. It’s not like you can bring the characters more alive. And the story’s already so good, plus it’s just so long. Perhaps the biggest problem is that, with a story like this, I would prefer to see something different done, than the story told all over again. Ragnar, if you’re going to do a story, do a what-if. Or do a completely new story that’s still in the same world(s). I just feel like redoing TLJ would have no point. I would, however, love to see perhaps the world more fleshed out, expanding into books and movies. I would more than willingly pay money to go see something that you had written that was new but in the same universe, compared to seeing TLJ redone with people that won’t fit ’cause the voice is wrong or they don’t look right.

  • Luisto Says:

    Film (either TV or cinema) is a different medium than games, and should be handled differently. In this case this means chopping up large parts of game plot, all the parts that don’t translate well to the screen, focusing on the core parts, etc. Soooo a 2-hour long TLJ or Dreamfall would have to be very different from what we’ve seen in the game… Take out the irrelevant (for the movie) scenes, simplify plot and characters, heighten the tension, bring the love interest sooner, etc… all the typical stuff we’ve come to expect from Hollywood :-).

    This may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. I’d love to see this property on the big (or small) screen, and would be willing to accept the plot and character sacrifices this needs (although I’m not sure many of us would)… as long as Ragnar or someone involved with the story decides what to change/chop. Let’s hope a movie turns into reality some day!

  • Luisto Says:

    Something else: I think this should start with Dreamfall, where the tension is more palpable from the beginning (Reza’s dissapeared! A ghostlike girl appears from nowhere!)… TLJ’d probably’d be slower…

  • Douglas Cartland Says:

    “We’ve spoken to various people in various positions…”

    Say given the opportunity for such a movie, would you want to focus on adapting and re-writing the plot to fit a movie, using TLJ as an inspiration (ala resident evil), or be the first game/movie screenwriter in history to follow the plot of the game dogmatically.

    I think the latter is what many game-to-movie fans would like to see, which from what I gather (certainly I) missed from a movie like Silent Hill, that promised so much in terms of authenticity, and did a lot of things right, but was inevitably ruined by too much modifications to the plot.

    Which kind of makes me wish they’d done a side story in the SH universe instead of re-telling the plot. Hey, now there’s an idea: pull an Advent Children: Not necessarily all CG movie, but continue the story from the games or tell a side story. Like telling Dreamfall from Reza’s perspective?

    Sorry, I’m just thinking out loud here and keep on rambling the most random of thoughts. Guess I should get to my point, like so many here probably have already posted: I’d love to watch a TLJ movie if you’re given the opportunity to make it. Not that my voice will make it happen, but here’s hoping. :)

  • Jo Berry Says:

    No, I think TLJ would be better served by a TV series or a graphic novel than being on the big screen. If it was a Hollywood movie people would just lump it in with other ‘oh, it’s fantasy, who cares’ movies. Besides, the best part of TLJ was the fact it WAS a long journey, but we were in excellent company, April’s. Trying to condense it into two hours would take a lot of that ‘epic’ sense away. But as a TV series, we would be right there with April, sticking with her through everything and get a sense of what she had to endure (and enjoy). The chapters really lend themselves to episodes.

    Dreamfall WOULD work as a movie, I think, but it’s so cinematic anyway I wouldn’t see the point of doing it over.

  • RaMa Says:

    Some good poinths there, Jo. Especially the one about TLJ being more suited for a TV series. I could very much see that working.

  • Evolved Says:

    yeah, a movie, shure, i would love an movie, and i’m shure that if you would make a TLJ movie, it would make a great movie,no doubt about it….

    and it would be BIG… i really think it would be a hit…

    BUT, first, dreamfall chapers man… yet, no, first, NBT :P

    Cheers… ;)

  • SarilX Says:

    I just have one question, and one question only.

    In an ideal world, who would you have play Zoe on the bigscreen??

  • teddy Says:

    Why is the american populace still supporting game adaptations that are not character or story driven? It is frankly pathetic and sad. I will predict that it is going to generate a lot of revenue provided that it is released in the summer when men’s testosterone rages like fire. Game adaptations that hit the chord are mostly the ones who have a solid story as the backbone to support their fictional universes surrounding their memorable characters. I hear rumours/gossips at universal pictures that Grim Fandango is receiving quite an interest as an animated adaptation of the game in the likes of Toy Story. One can only hope. ….

  • DaveY Says:

    How can I forget such video game movie classics like Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros, Mortal Kombat, Double Dragon, Doom, House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Bloodrayne… Anyway, in speaking of video game movies, I really wish a movie studio can do a game to movie justice. The closest I’ve seen to a good adaptation is Silent Hill, but even then, they butchered the storyline to fit Hollywood needs; nevertheless, the look of Silent Hill is spot on and gorgeous in a way. There were talks for the Halo movie to be made by Peter Jackson’s production company, but then that got canned due to no major studio support. But I can understand if Halo doesn’t get made because who wants to watch a movie where their leading star never shows off their face. Unless they went with a different route and created a story based on the Halo universe similar to what http://www.ilovebees.com did, which actually is an interesting story with intertwining plots and even no mention of Master Chief. If Gears of War is done right, they could “potentially” have a entertaining action sci-fi cult classic along the lines of Aliens. It has great atmosphere and fun no nonsense characters and plenty of action, suspense, and gore. It has the elements to make it possible since there’s no deep storyline to it, just good campy fun… but knowing the movie studios, they’d find some way to dumb it down moreso, hire a bad director, and make it as crappy as can be.

    One thing that annoys me about video game to movies is that they always want to get that video game feel to it. I never thought that it was necessary and when it is done that way, it just feels cheesy. All I ask is to tell the story well (as close as to the original) and get the atmosphere right and when shooting it, shoot the movie as any regular movie and not make it video game-esque. A couple annoying examples is the first person part of Doom and the finding of items and progression in Silent Hill. I like how they do pay homage to the games they’re influenced from, but just don’t overdo it.

    And that’s interesting that there’s actually been movie talks about The Longest Journey. I can see that happening, but it will be one epic movie or the screenplay writer can really do a good job on telling this complex story to the silver screen. If anything, a mini-series may be more appropriate to tell the story because of the length of the storyline. I would definitely watch this in a heart beat, and I believe you would do this right unlike previous attempts from other games. Just please don’t let Uwe Boll get anywhere near this project if it ever comes to fruition.

  • GombeTo Says:

    You’re more than right - if TLJ is going to be a movie, it MUST be perfect. Not a cheap and lame one. So you better not make one if there’s not money to be done excellent.

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