The big picture: Recently it seems we’ve seen a lot of video games transforming into movies or television shows. While such adaptations are nothing new, The Witcher’s wild success may have sparked interest in knock-offs of the latest round movie. The only trick is getting finicky fans to pay them off.
The motion picture production house Lionsgate confirmed rumors on Thursday that it is working on a film adaptation of the Borderlands video game. Producers Avi and Ari Arad tapped to direct Eli Roth. Sometime this year, filming is slated to begin.
“I’m so excited about diving into the Borderlands world and I couldn’t do that with a better script, team production, and studio,” Roth told Deadline.
Last summer, wind of adaptation emerged when a film synopsis leaked to Full Circle Cinema. According to the plot summary, as far as character backstories are concerned, the film will take some liberties, and the game lore.
“A mysterious thief called Lilith will be the narrator in a new story that will include instantly recognizable faces such as the Claptrap, a fan favorite. The film will find Lilith in Space Prison at the Atlas Corporation when the CEO offers her the opportunity to gain her freedom by freeing her daughter, the foul-mouthed Tiny Tina, on the planet Pandora. The quest is taking an unexpected turn when it becomes obvious that the little girl is the key to unlocking a precious alien safe that Atlas needs for itself.
At the time Full Circle announced that the script was being worked on by 22 Jump Street writer Oren Uziel. Lionsgate, however, says it hired Craig Mazin to write the adaptation. Mazin simply won two Emmy Awards for his work on the Chernobyl HBO miniseries. The studio has also brought on board the executive producers Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick and Gearbox Software founder Randy Pitchford.
“With Eli’s vision and Craig’s screenplay, we believe we’ve cracked the code on bringing Borderlands ‘ anarchic world to the big screen in a big way that’s going to be a fresh, compelling and cinematic event for moviegoers and game fans,” Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane said.
We’ll see. Lionsgate did not mention plot points, nor did it recognize the allegedly leaked synopsis, but if the rumored outline is valid, it is likely that the movie will be a hard-sell for fans.
Video game film adaptations seldom do well, and they flop most of the time, because the authors have played too much with the mythology. The Netflix series The Witcher provides an excellent example of how games should be adapted into TV or movies.
Fans could give Lionsgate a pass to make Lilith a thief as there’s a lot of her unknown backstory. In Borderlands lore, however, it’s well established that Tiny Tina is an orphan and not the daughter of an exec atlas. Moreover, she is definitely not a key to the vault. Such types of changes are what usually place video game adaptations with the likes of Mortal Kombat in the garbage pile: Annihilation, Alone in the Dark, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse.