Monday, November 7, 2011

Reel Facts & Opinions

FACT: Sony Pictures and video game-maker Ubisoft have inked a deal to bring the wildly successful Assassin’s Creed to the big screen. The major news here is that Ubisoft demanded, and won an unheard amount of control over the project; everything from budget, cast, script, and release date.

OPINION: This can set a dangerous precedent. If the film flops, Ubisoft will not only have ruined their own property, but they would have sabotaged themselves in any future negotiations. On the flip side, if the film is actually good, then studios are going to have to contend with a long line of geeky gamers wanting total control in future films.

Ubisoft is clearly being very protective of their beloved franchise, and do not want some studio hack to butcher their love into another B-level turd in the long line of B-level turds that video game films tend to become; SUPER MARIO BROS., RESIDENT EVIL, PRINCE OF PERSIA, BLOODRAYNE…to name a few. Ubisoft may know a lot about making great games, but do they know anything about making movies?

The answer may lay in history, history that opens up the bigger question: Who should have control over the property; The Creator, or the Filmmaker?

Theoretically, no one but The Creator knows the property better. The Creator has spent time with the characters, the world they live in, and the things that they face. No one knows the source material better than the Creator. However, it is The Filmmaker who knows what works on screen, and what doesn’t. What works in a video game (or a comic book, novel, etc.) will likely not work in a movie, which is a completely different medium.

When Creators and Filmmakers put their heads together in a healthy way, great things can happen. Director David Fincher made sure author Aaron Sorkin was on set for every day of shooting in the making of THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and the results won Oscars. Author J.K. Rowling worked closely with Warner Bros.’ directors and producers in the HARRY POTTER adaptations, and the results were (mostly) spectacular. Reaching back a bit further, the late great Irvin Kershner directed a masterpiece in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, but be assured that series creator George Lucas kept a watchful eye on things during production.

Again, when the two sides come together and stir up each other’s creative juices, great things can happen. When one side or the other wants more or all, shit can happen. Ubisoft way want to remember that, before they go ahead and slay their own baby.

What say you?

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