Game on, Hollywood: a look at Hollywood’s love affair with video games

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It’s Hollygood news that movie theaters across the country are reopening. It’s *really* Good in the ‘Wood that there are so many great new movie releases this year worth seeing in theaters. So check out our tips to safely return to the movies and pick something to see that is in movie theaters right now

Already got plans this weekend? Discover upcoming movie releases, including three video games turned into movies: Mortal Kombat, Werewolves Within, and Resident Evil

Video game lovers everywhere are wondering if one of these three movie releases will be the film that cracks the $500 million worldwide box office mark. The only video game movies in the last 25 plus years to come close was Detective Pikachu starring Ryan Reynolds in 2019 and the 2018 film Rampage

This led us to wonder: why aren’t film adaptations of video games as successful as film adaptations of books and comic books?

Will 2021 movie releases break the video game movie curse?

Video games have a long history of becoming movies. 

In 1993, Buena Vista Productions released a Hollywood live-action movie based on Nintendo’s classic video game Super Mario Bros. The movie wasn’t received well by critics and didn’t meet box office expectations (grossing less than $40 million worldwide which was actually under its production budget) and unfortunately, the fate of video games as movies has, for the most part, stuck over the last 25 years. 

Perhaps one of these 2021 movie releases can break the curse of video game movies. 

Mortal Kombat: It’s been over 20 years since the last Mortal Kombat film was released. Even though it’s not the first time this game franchise has released a film, this version might be what brings gamers back to the movies. The film’s trailer, released earlier this year, has broken records, becoming the most viewed red band movie trailer of all time.

See it for yourself:

Werewolves Within: While Mortal Kombat may fill your desire for guts and gore, this video game turned upcoming movie release is being touted as a comedic horror movie based on the video game of the same name. Check out what movie theaters open near you and see if you can guess who the werewolf is in this upcoming movie release.

There’s no trailer yet for this upcoming movie release. Sign up for email updates from Hollywood.com so you can see the trailer as soon as it’s available!

Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City: The Resident Evil video game is no stranger to movie theaters. Hollywood live-action movies have been released based on the video game in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2017. Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City is a whole new look at this fictional world, set in years predating any of the six movie releases and positioned to be based on the first and second release of the games.

There’s no trailer yet for this upcoming movie release, either. Sign up for email updates from Hollywood.com so you can see the trailer as soon as it’s available!

Regardless of the box office stats and harsh critiques, gamers seem to love movie versions of their favorite games

Weird but we’re here for it.

The absolute *height*

Lives in our mind rent-free

We’re enticed

SAME tho

The homies

Video game movies may not be a hit, but movies about video games are

While video games adapted to movies haven’t been a hit at movie theaters, there are many movies where the central theme of the movie was video games that have been both commercial and critical successes. In fact, movies about video games predate Hollywood adapting video games into movies themselves! 

Back in 1982, 14 years before the Hollywood live-action release of Super Mario Bros, Disney released the groundbreaking film Tron, grossing approximately $50 million in worldwide movie ticket sales and an estimated $70 million in wholesale merchandise. Tron is often cited as a revolutionary film for special effects, computer animation, and more. In fact, more than 30 years later, Disney released Wreck-It Ralph followed by the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet. The first film in the series grossed $471 million in worldwide movie tickets and won nominations for Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. 

In 2018, Steven Spielberg brought us Ready Player One, a blockbuster flick based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline. This sci-fi action movie is set in the future, where everyone plugs into a virtual world called OASIS which becomes an escape from the harsh reality of the real world. The film follows Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan) as he hunts throughout the OASIS to find clues to a special game created by the now-dead founder of the OASIS. Whoever wins the hidden game inherits the entire OASIS world and business. Wade partners up with his virtual gamer friends to try to win before a corrupt businessman wins. The movie is filled with pop culture references that glorify the 1980s.

The movie grossed over $582 million in the box office and received multiple award nominations. Although beat out by First Man and Black Panther, Ready Player One had good reviews. One critic said it has “some of the most viscerally engaging filmmaking Spielberg has ever done” and another said, “its world-building is skillful.” Ready Player One fans may have a sequel to look forward to since Ernest Cline published Ready Player Two last year.

In the meantime, we have another 2021 movie release to watch: Free Guy. Free Guy stars Ryan Reynolds––who starred in Detective Pikachu––back for another video game-centric movie. This time, he plays an NPC named Guy who gets a chance to become a playable character in a brutal video game. For any non-gamers out there, NPC stands for non-playable character. They’re like extras who help create a more immersive world in a video game. 

Here’s the trailer:

Free Guy’s release date is August 13, which Ryan Reynolds shared hilariously in this Instagram video:


 
 
 
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A post shared by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds)

Free Guy won’t be the last of the video game movies! Taaron Egerton confirmed via his Instagram account that filming has wrapped on the Tetris movie:


 
 
 
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A post shared by Taron Egerton (@taron.egerton)

Hollywood welcomes a new type of celebrity 

While Super Mario Bros, Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil have been the video games turned into movies there’s another list of video games in Hollywood including Fortnite, Overwatch, Dota 2, and others. These video games are turning gamers into professional celebrity athletes in the exploding world of esports

While Tom Brady, LeBron James, and other celebrity athletes have had to sit the bench for some of this year, esports has been booming to create a whole new category of celebrities. While playing professional football and basketball is limited to individuals blessed with a certain physical stature and speed, anyone can become an Esport gamer. Some of the top Esport gamers include Josiah “Slacked” Berry whose main game is Call of Duty, Benjy “BenjyFishy” Fish whose main game is Fortnite, SushiBAE who has millions of TikTok views for his Fornite and Among Us content, Jake Franklin, better known as Viking, and Rumay “Hafu” Wang, better known as Hafu on Twitch where she has over one million followers for her streams of games including Variety and Among Us.

While these are household names to gamers all over the world, A-list Hollywood movie and music celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Travis Scott are also getting involved with esports by investing and performing.

So, why are video game movie adaptations historically unsuccessful?

Maybe it’s not a curse. Maybe both gamers and Esports celebrities want to become the characters they play in video games rather than simply watching the movie.

Variety film critic said it best in his 2018 review of Ready Player One: “Yet the contradiction of a video-game/VR movie is that games are, of course, awesomely immersive, whereas a movie about games is more akin to watching somebody else play one.”

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