Hollywood and the video gamesinfoshop industry have never been more closely linked than they are now. In the multibillion dollar entertainment industry, the producers of both media are looking to each other to maximize the profit that can be realized from a single idea.
Research seems to indicate that Hollywood was the first to dip into this incestuous pool. Super Mario Bros, the first major commercial success for a home gaming console in the mainstream, exploded onto the scene when it was bundled with the original Nintendo Entertainment System. While there had been some direct to video or TV movies made from video game titles previously, Super Mario Bros was a major studio blockbuster. It was unsuccessful at the box office, as fans of the game found it to have been an unfaithful adaptation of the games’ storylines and characters. The mid-90’s also spawned movies based on the era’s most popular fighting games, such as arcade favourites Double Dragon, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. None of these movies did particularly well, and it was 2001 before Hollywood had a bona fide success in the video games to movies gamble with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Lara Croft, a sort of sexy, young, female Indiana Jones type of character with a penchant for high-tech gadgets and short shorts came to fame in video games designed for the PC and the Sony Playstation. The Tomb Raider movie, produced by Paramount, is still the highest grossing movie based on a video game to date. The reason for the sudden success of a video game based movie seems clear: the Tomb Raider games had cinematic storylines and a leading lady that seemed made for the big screen. The filmmakers didn’t have to force her into the format – video games had started to become more sophisticated. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was followed by movie versions of major game franchises like Resident Evil, Alone In The Dark and Hitman, to name a few, and even more are currently in production.
As video games became cinematic in their own right, it seemed natural that the adaptation bandwagon should go both ways. Particularly now, with video game consoles that have graphics that rival the best digital effects found in Hollywood’s bag of tricks, there doesn’t seem to be a major blockbuster release without an accompanying video game. Action movies, specifically, seem to be tailor made for the format and if you check the shelves of your local video game shop, you’ll find familiar titles like Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and Star Wars. In most cases, the game is an adaptation of the plot of the film, but some movie franchises have video game offshoots whose content is only based on an aspect of the films and includes elements or characters only alluded to in the original source medium. Some examples of this are games like Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, which is based on the flying broomstick sport from the popular series, and several Star Wars titles that expand the universe of the films, including Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront.