Ever since the release of 2014’s Battleship, starring Rihanna and Liam Neeson, the concept of what could be made into a film has turned towards games. Though really this trend spanned all the way back to the 1985 adaptation of the board game Cluedo with the film Clue. Films have taken inspiration from anything that has a huge fanbase, and that includes board games and video games. We’ve had Lego Batman, Resident Evil, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and even Super Mario Bros. Some have scored big at the box office, while others have flopped. With such a varied past, what can we expect from films based on games going forward?

Disney Dashes The Sims Movie
Disney’s takeover of 20th Century Fox has already led to some drama offscreen for films based on games, with the merger resulting in Disney scrapping several Fox projects. A movie based on the game The Sims has also been dashed in the development phase of the merger, among a series of layoffs. Mega Man and Assassin’s Creed 2 – based on the popular video games - have also been removed from the slate. The film version of Assassin’s Creed was panned by critics, prompting the sequel’s cancellation, while Mega Man may have been too difficult to transform into a live-action film. Meanwhile, some projects such as the Magic: The Gathering film have jumped ship to Netflix, with this project in particular set to become a series by The Russo Brothers.

The logic behind scrapping The Sims movie seems to be based on the reception of Battleship or could just be Disney investing in projects it wants to make. John Landis stated that The Sims movie would most likely have been similar in tone to the 1985 hit Weird Science. When it comes to a movie based on The Sims, so as not to go the way of other game-based film projects, the story would have to take elements of the gameplay while being a fully-fledged narrative in its own right.

Kevin Hart Accident Pauses Monopoly Production
Ever since video games and board games became fodder for films, some have wondered what a Monopoly film would look like. January 2019 saw the project get the go-ahead with Kevin Hart in a starring role, but a car crash in September 2019 has placed the project in jeopardy. Due to the long road to recovery that Hart is expected to have to take, the film will likely be postponed, hoping to keep his star talent for when he is ready to film. Most fans were excited over the concept of a Monopoly film, especially as Monopoly has been converted into other formats successful before. For instance, the video game of Monopoly took the most popular aspects of the board game for players online, while McDonald’s Monopoly promotion that involves collecting tokens representing the properties sees profits soar. Indeed, the Monopoly slot game has been consistently chosen as one of the best slots to play translating the idea of taking a trip around the Monopoly board and expensive properties within the slot game. The better the property you land on, the bigger the prizes, just like the board game.

What Makes a Good Game-Based Film?
Other video games that expected a cinematic release have found it difficult to make it to the big screen. Popular gaming franchise Sly Raccoon is also trapped in development hell with their film adaptation of the larcenous critter, with news breaking in 2018 that a TV series was to be developed and launched in 2019 and 2020 instead. Even the Pokémon-themed film, Detective Pikachu, failed to receive the reception it should have done. Perhaps giving Pikachu a voice and making the film grittier put some fans off, or it could have been the design of the fur that sent social media into meltdown.

The Angry Birds film sequel was released in cinemas to rave reviews, praising moving away from the gameplay elements, being fun, and having a stellar voice cast. The franchise may not be for everyone, but it helps to bridge the generation gap between those who know Angry Birds as a game and those who know it as a film series.

What Other Game-Based Films Can We Expect?
Gaming success story Fortnite takes direct inspiration from the movies to cast its games, which shows its crossover culture, but also shows that there could be no possible movie based on such a cavalcade of characters and elements. Meanwhile, despite mixed initial reactions, fans are already excited for the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog film – although some have critiqued the design of the fur of the hedgehog, which led to a complete redesign of the character and delays to the film's release. While some titles appear to be easily translated onto the new format, others, such as Minecraft will need to employ the best storytellers to keep the feeling of the game that people love, but also make it an enjoyable standalone film.

Films based on games seem like easy sells. Those based on video games have an existing audience already, one that is more likely to engage with such forms of entertainment. Board games, meanwhile, are universal and timeless, so will spark recognition from the vast majority, many of which would seem interested in how the game they know and love might be transformed into a film. It’s no surprise that games are made into films, given how many games are spawned based on films. The success of the heavy slate of game-based films set to be released over the next few years will likely proliferate the trend and create some unmissable films.