Video games have been able to weave engrossing stories for decades, but the medium has always had a bit of a problematic relationship with the feature film adaptations of its material. There have been a fair share of clunky films that get their inspiration from video games, but other adaptations have turned into gigantic franchises.
With the recent success of Pokémon Detective Pikachu and the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog film on the way, video game films seem to have found a new life. While these are some of the more popular video game series to come to life in film, there are plenty more projects that are on the way that pull from both mainstream and more obscure titles. Accordingly, here are 20 video game movies you likely forgot were being made.
Some video game series have decades of history to pull from and others are more recent phenomenon where it’s unclear just how much staying power and relevance they’ll have in the future. Minecraft is more of a modern classic, but it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. After the success of The Lego Movie, any sort of construction-based property seemed ripe to attack. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney was at one point attached to direct the film, but he’s since left and development appears to have slowed down on the project.
19 Mega Man
Mega Man is one of Capcom's most popular properties and the character has spawned an animated series and other examples to prove that he definitely has the name recognition to warrant a feature film. Capcom teamed up with 20th Century Fox on a Mega Man picture, with Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (of Catfish and Paranormal Activity fame) to write the script. Granted, this was back in 2013, so the project has clearly stalled, but they've continued to keep it alive.
18 Call Of Duty
Movie producers love tapping something during the height of its popularity and the Call of Duty titles have consistently been some of the most popular shooters to come along. It's only natural that they'd want a piece of that success. In fact, they're so confident in the popularity of this franchise that two Call of Duty movies are in active development. Details on the second one are scant, but Sicario 2's Stefano Solima is primed to tackle the first film.
17 Assassin’s Creed 2
The Michael Fassbender-led adaptation of Assassin’s Creed may have retained the craziness of the video games’ needlessly complicated story, but the film failed to reach much of an audience. Fassbender is a strong performer and has proven that he’s not a bad person to lead a franchise, yet the messy film was fairly critically maligned. In spite of the film’s poor performance, there’s still word that an Assassin’s Creed 2 is in the cards. If it does happen, perhaps it can course-correct many of the first film’s issues.
16 Metal Gear Solid
Director Jorddan Vogt-Roberts hasn't hidden his passion for Metal Gear Solid. It looks like he may be one of the biggest fanboys for the series and that's kind of perfect for someone that's adapting such a quirky, unusual video game series. Vogt-Roberts has stated that his film is a mash-up of many of the franchise's sensibilities rather than a direct adaptation and although a script is apparently finished, there's currently no release date.
15 The Division
Many of these video game adaptations have popularity and interest behind them, but they still feel like pipe dreams that may not come to pass. That being said, some of these films have very real steam behind them, such as the upcoming film based on Ubisoft's The Division. Not only are the likes of Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal set to star in it, but Deadpool 2 and John Wick's David Leitch is directing, which will surely mean that bonkers action is on the way, too.
14 Duke Nukem
Much like Doom, Duke Nukem is an extremely simple action franchise that often prides itself in the stereotypes that it plays into. In this respect, Duke Nukem is actually the perfect series to turn into an action film, since it can bank off of the games’ popularity and doesn’t have that stringent of a framework to fit into. Jean-Julien Baronnet is currently set to adapt the film, with John Cena being the most recent name to be associated with the starring role. Cena would actually fit really well in the macho role.
Everything old is eventually new again and nostalgia has never been more popular with audiences. Accordingly, it may seem ridiculous to turn old video games that barely have stories into feature films, but sometimes that bare-bones setup can help a film find freedom and a new purpose. Such is the case with the adaptations of Centipede and Missile Command that are on the way. They’ll probably resemble something like the film adaptation of Battleship, but the fact that these movies are coming from MoviePass Films may not be a good sign.
12 Five Nights At Freddy’s
The Five Nights At Freddy’s games have been creeping kids out for years now and they’ve even spawned a successful line of merchandise and apparel that clearly show the series has value outside of its original medium. Very wisely, Blumhouse has teamed up to deliver a film adaptation of the games. Production has been held up slightly since the game’s creator, Scott Cawthon, didn’t approve of the first draft of the script that was submitted, but hopefully it won’t take too long until a draft that he does like comes along.
11 Watch Dogs
Ubisoft has seen a lot of luck with their titles getting optioned for film adaptions. Watch Dogs is one of their more recent hits and in 2013 a movie of the critically acclaimed action title was announced. Watch Dogs combines impressive hacking with over the top violence, which seems like a surefire hit for the cinemas. Development on this one has stalled, but there’s at least been an update to confirm that talks over the movie are still taking place and that it hasn’t been abandoned.
10 Dynasty Warriors
The Dynasty Warriors titles have become synonymous with massive free-for-alls. They trade in a heightened level of chaos that seems ideal for a flashy film. Curiously, a Dynasty Warriors film is close to release and will be out before the end of 2019. Roy Chow Hin Yeung has directed the action film, but it's produced by China 3D Digital Entertainment Limited, which could mean that it may not experience a local release. It'd be a true shame since the series is very popular in North America, but at least a film is still happening.
9 Gears Of War
Gears of War really feels like a no brainer when it comes to video game movie adaptations. It’s a popular apocalyptic action series that pits gruff guys with insane weaponry against even crazier alien foes. A film version of this franchise has been in development with Universal since 2016, with several different creative changes occurring over the years. The latest news had F. Scott Frazier as penning the script and while no lead has been attached, Dave Bautista has been very vocal about how much he'd love to play the games' Marcus Fenix. Make it happen, people!
People have been trying to get Nathan Drake's adventures on the big screen for a while now. There was even a bootleg test video released with Nathan Fillion as the Uncharted lead that garnered buzz, but still couldn't trigger production. Uncharted's film adaptation has gained more momentum as of late, with Tom Holland set to star and Dan Trachtenberg lined up as director. The talented team is set to focus on Drake's first foray with Sully for the film's plot.
The Borderlands titles have created a hyperbolized world that gamers have fallen in love with. It's a surreal experience, so to translate that over to the cinema could be really amazing if done right. There hasn't been a lot of news over the production of the Borderlands film, but Aaron Berg is set to write it with both Avi Arad and Ari Arad producing the vehicle. Perhaps the release of the next game in the series will reignite interest in the project.
Portal is one of those games where it’s not just fun and impressive, but it’s smart in a way that can be rare for video games. It’s such a trip on every level and while it may not be easy to translate Portal’s quirky, cerebral nature to the big screen, it could be extremely memorable in the right hands. Fortunately, J.J. Abrams is the one that has approached Portal and while it’s unclear just how much work he’s done on development, he’s the right person to properly unlock the mystery of how to do this universe justice.
5 Just Cause
The Just Cause series has four games to its name and it's likely that this bombastic action-adventure franchise is far from finished. Back in 2017, news regarding a film adaptation of Rico Rodriguez's adventures looked optimistic with the very popular Jason Momoa set to star and Brad Peyton tapped as director. In spite of that talent, development has slowed down, but that doesn't mean that the film isn't still happening. It may just be a case of working around Mamoa's increasingly busy schedule.
J.J. Abrams likes to stay busy and be tuned into what’s popular. It’s not that big of a surprise that he’d have several video game series optioned for film adaptations. However, Abrams’ choice, Half-Life and Portal, demonstrate that he probably has a love of games and is versed with these worlds. Half-Life fans have learned to cope with disappointment and projects not coming to fruition, but hopefully Abrams can lend his touch to this series and renew its popularity. Maybe that’s how gamers will finally get a Half-Life 3.
3 The Last Of Us
The Last Of Us made serious waves in the video game world. It's a title that's extremely cinematic in nature and deals with the kind of story and complex characters that are usually reserved for films and not video games. This feels like a relatively easy property to adapt, yet the latest buzz on the picture is that it has entered development trouble. Neil Druckmann, the director of the game, finished a script for the film, but he's apparently not pleased with it and hopes that it's not what's used for the film, if and when it happens.
Doom has actually had its shot in the cinemas in the past, but even with a cast that boasted talent like Dwayne Johnson, 2005’s Doom was largely a swing and a miss, so it’s not surprising that plans for a do-over are in the cards. This straight-to-video planned release has a few subversions to the formula planned, such as a female leading the action film. There may be lower expectations in place for this second stab at the franchise, but that might actually work in Doom’s favor.
1 Monster Hunter
Capcom’s Monster Hunter hasn’t always been a mainstream hit, but the franchise has become more popular in recent years and definitely proven that it has some cache in North America. The monster heralding series may be set to become more popular than ever before as Paul W.S. Anderson has tackled the games for his latest feature. Anderson’s take on the Resident Evil games became a long-running film franchise and it’s likely that the director has similar plans for Monster Hunter. It even has Milla Jovovich in the lead role.