Tenacious film producer Avi Arad is known for helping create the current golden age of comic book movies, particularly, Arad helped turn Marvel Studios into the golden goose it is today. For this reason, those in the video game world are watching very closely to see if he can work the same magic with video game adaptations. Recently, Eric Jou of Kotaku caught up with Arad for an interview in the China Daily to talk about Arad’s goals and plans for projects in China. In touching on comic book movies, the conversation first revolved around Resident Evil, which Arad views as very good but just shy of the perception altering smash hit that the genre needs. ”Converting games to film hasn’t been done yet successfully, though Resident Evil did very well—it was actually a great series. I remember when [producer] Bernd Eichinger started it,” said Arad. He continued, ”I was working with him, I just couldn’t do that at Marvel but I had a good feeling about it, it’s a fantastic franchise. I think that film studios are bankers and filmmakers are risk takers and somewhere in between we meet on the battlefield. And the moment one video game movie goes through the roof, it’s the same thing that I’ve been through with comic books.”
So what IP does Arad think will be the film to change perception? “I think the Uncharted movie will be very successful. It’s a father and son game. There are things about it that are interesting. I think the world of antiquities theft, there are many countries in the world that realized they’re being robbed and they’re trying to recoup these important pieces,” said Arad. ”Now, the script has a lot of character [and] I think that has a shot at being the first one [to succeed].” Arad’s responses make it sound as if the Uncharted movie is farthest along out of his many video game adaptations that are currently in development. Uncharted is currently set up at Sony and features a script that was originally penned by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly (Conan the Barbarian) but has since been rewritten by Marianne and Cormac Wibberley (National Treasure). At one point in time, director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and actor Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter) were both attached to the project but they’ve both departed to pursue other endeavors.
The Metal Gear Solid movie is about three or more years away according to Arad who implied that negotiations between the film studio and Konami could take a bit of time. However, Arad said that he’s in close contact with ‘Metal Gear’ creator Hideo Kojima. Like Uncharted, the Metal Gear Solid movie is also currently set up at Sony.
The movie that seems to be the farthest away is the Mass Effect adaptation. The project is currently set up at Legendary Pictures, who just jumped ship from Warner Bros. to partner with Universal Pictures. “It’s a big idea, that we, humans, are the least developed, the least trusted, it’s an interesting mirror image of our world, we are the aliens now,” said Arad of the adaptation. ”Love the project, it’s getting there, it’s been a lot of work; some movies take five, six years before they’re ready.” Legendary is currently working on bringing a World of Warcraft film to movie screens, whose success I imagine, will ultimately dictate the fate of Mass Effect.
Arad isn’t just concerned with making video game movies or live-action adaptations for that matter. He seems extremely proud of his latest venture, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a new animated program on Disney XD. ”Pac-Man, he’s a person now and he has issues and things he likes and the netherworld is where all the ghosts are. There was a reason why there are ghosts, because two brothers were fighting for control of Pac Land. One of them is the tough guy heading the land of the ghouls and all they want to do is take over the world.” The Pac-Man cartoon is the number one show for its target demographic on Disney XD.