Hollywood and the videogame industry have a rocky relationship. Years ago, when gaming was still in its infancy, developers would have given anything to have their title adapted into a film franchise. That eventually did happen, thanks to "Super Mario Bros." in the early '90s, but the film was – well, it's absolute garbage. Unfortunately, the tradition of poor videogame adaptations has continued with almost complete certainty since then, leaving both film and game audiences wary of the industry's attempts to cross that digital divide.
Ubisoft is trying something different with "Assassin's Creed." The game publisher is retaining abnormal amounts of creative control over the mega-franchise's jump to the big screen; a move that has some Hollywood insiders claiming that the picture will never see the light of day.
According to Vulture, the film industry is "flabbergasted" at the level of control maintained by Ubisoft in their deal to bring "Assassin's Creed" to theaters with Sony Pictures. After speculation that other studios like DreamWorks or Universal might land the title, Sony has won out. Given reports that Ubisoft has rights to casting, script, and even release date, one can imagine Sony's willingness to part with control likely assisted in the agreement.
Honestly, it should come as no surprise that Ubisoft made such demands. Back in May, the company formed their own film division, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, with the aim of keeping their popular game franchises' adaptations in their own hands.
"We want to keep ownership, retain control over the film content, and we're open to work with studios on the development of our projects, and eventually collaborate on the pre-casting, pre-budget and script," Ubisoft's Jean-Julian Baronnet said earlier this year.
Why should anyone in Hollywood be "flabbergasted" by the concept of a game publisher wishing to maintain consistency with their brand? Certainly, if the film industry had a wonderful track record of converting videogames to the big screen there would be no issue. Unfortunately, that isn't the case, and one need look no further than the bumbling portfolio of Uwe Boll ("Bloodrayne," "Far Cry") to understand why Ubisoft wants to hold creative restraint on their products.
The game industry doesn't quite have the stars in its eyes like it did back in the days before "Super Mario Bros." Videogames are now a $74 billion industry, giving movies a run for their money in control of the entertainment media market, and there is the very genuine question as to whether or not game publishers really need film adaptations.
A talent agent told Vulture that the restrictions upon Sony meant the film will "never get made." Of course, if getting the film made means another ham-fisted Hollywood adaptation, gamers may just be better off without it.
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