ASSASSIN’S CREED Deal Terms May Neutralize the Project

by     Posted 2 years, 298 days ago

When we reported that Sony Pictures had planned to adapt Assassin’s Creed, we told you that “Ubisoft has set the terms of the deal to be a more active participant in the movie’s development.” Mark that as the understatement of the year, because details have emerged suggesting that Ubisoft now exercises an unheard of amount of control over the project. Says one insider: “As a director, even Steven Spielberg cannot get this kind of deal.”

Sony apparently has granted Ubisoft control over the budget, casting, script and release date, in a deal that sets a dangerous precedent. Though, in the history of video game franchises made into movies, there have been more busts than blockbusters. Perhaps Ubisoft and Sony think this is the answer to the problem. Or perhaps Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot threatened the studio execs with a hidden blade. Hit the jump for more details.

assassins-creed-altair-image-01For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the games feature a modern day descendant of a line of ancient assassins. Using a high-tech device, he’s able to access his ancestral memories and carry out assassinations in various locales. The gameplay uses a Parkour style of movement, very similar to the other Ubisoft title-turned-movie, Prince of Persia.

Ubisoft is hoping that that’s where the similarities end between the two properties. The box-office failure of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time may be the reason the game company is pushing so hard for more control over the film adaptation of Assassin’s Creed. Their aggressive tactic rubbed some studios the wrong way, as DreamWorks, Universal and Warner Bros. passed on the deal before Sony agreed to terms. Speaking with Vulture, one of the passing studio chiefs put it thusly:

“They [Ubisoft] want to be able to pull the plug on the whole movie’s development if they decide to. It’s ridiculous.”

Ubisoft is obviously playing it close to the vest since they want the feature to succeed and turn into a lucrative movie franchise to complement their wildly successful game line. Perhaps because their games are so gorgeous and cinematic to begin with, they are under the impression that they can simply rent out the studios toys and actors to make a bigger version of their console games. Another studio exec seems to take offense to that line of thought:

“But they’re not moviemakers, and the only way to make sure it’s a bad movie is to undervalue what movie studios do — and this is a deal that totally undervalues what movie studios do.”

ubisoft-logoSony, on the other hand, has a different perspective on the concessions that were made. No official comments have been made, but an insider source explains that the extra control Ubisoft was granted came with an increased sticker price. The game company has kicked in a significant amount of their own coin in order to develop the project. In other words, Sony believes they’ve brokered a bargain by giving up a little more control for spending less money and hopefully reaping the rewards from a franchise with a built-in audience.

So let’s review the terms again: Ubisoft has control over the budget, which makes sense since Sony says they’re footing a significant portion of it. They have final say on the principal cast, which I’m oddly okay with since the characters are their creations after all. Even their sway over the script shouldn’t be a big deal, since they’ll be able to insert a (hopefully) fresh idea in canon that should please fans and studio execs. The only thing I can assume about control over the release date is that they have some sort of marketing machine revving up to tie in a new game with the film.

What do you think? Should gaming companies insist upon more control over their properties to insure their customers (both players and movie-goers) get a good product? Or will too many cooks spoil the soup once again? Check out a trailer from the video game version of Assassin’s Creed below, just in case the movie doesn’t do it justice.

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  • Vinícius

    You gotta at least respect Ubisoft, because this sure is a Ballsy move.
    They’ve put their foot down, saying enough is enough. If they are going to let anyone make another movie of one of their game franchises, is going to be in their terms.

    I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I truly think this is one hell of a bold approach.

  • Dick Grayson

    If Sony passes on this deal it will be a mistake, not a huge one (cough*QuantamofSolace*cough) but a mistake nonetheless. Giving creative control to the actual creators of the franchise is a smart move. Who better to write, cast, and produce a movie than those who are responsible for its existence? Honestly, I like this idea behind making video game properties into movies. Let the people who know the franchise have control over it.

  • dukeofyork

    Prince of Persia was not a flop. It did poorer than expected, but ultimately made money largely due to the foreign box office and dvd sales. Even a movie like Water World that is heralded as one of the greatest flops of all time actually made money. Not ALL movies do, but far more of the big budget summer block busters come out at least even if not on top in the end despite headlines all over the web heralding them as flops. Disappointing? Definitely in terms of quality and arguably in terms of money made, but Prince of Persia was not a flop.

  • Smartgunner

    This is a great move by Ubisoft.
    Why the heck shouldn’t they demand to have a say, it is their property after all. Too many decent games with perfectly good plots have had some idiot director come along and make a complete screw-up of it.

  • MC ATTAck

    Sound like something worth trying, the only thing that concern me is that there is a real life short or miniseries of this game that is very, very bad and i think the developers were also involved, but I’m not sure how much. It was bland, boring, with a very poor choice in casting of the principal character. Somebody must know about this. It is good to have a good studio behind a project like this because now in this days everybody thinks is a filmmaker.

  • LEM

    This is excellent news! The reason most games fail as movies is because the creative driving force that made it such a success was not involved in the movie version. They should always use the same writers/directors and creative team that make these games so great.

  • Jackie Diane

    Ummm… Movie studios DON’T make good movies. Didn’t anyone SEE Cowboys v. Aliens? If an upstart like Ubisoft thinks they can do better, why not let them try? I mean Jannard made sunglasses before cameras and look what HE did to the movie industry.

  • Alex

    No, Hollywood. Ubisoft demanded and retained creative control because they saw the trainwreck that was Prince of Persia: Sands of Time courtesy of Disney and Bruckheimer, and decided they could do a better job. And they’re probably right. And also because they don’t need the money from some arrogant studio executives. The writing is on the wall, Activision Blizzard and EA are probably going to follow suit down the line.

  • Dehumanizer

    Does this mean they’re going to release the movie with bugs and glitches intact?

  • Smithy

    Sony is playing it *very* smart by giving Ubisoft extraordinary amount of say in the making of the movie.

    No-one knows the target audience for the franchise as well as Ubisoft, so they should be the ones dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on this, to make it a success.

  • zeejay

    Nobody remembers Resident Evil? What a cluster f**k after RE1 pretty much screwed it up beyond repair

  • Cypher

    I think it’s a cool idea myself. And I didn’t mind Price of Persia – even after playing two versions of the game beforehand.

    I’ve read interviews with many many directors who are forced to make changes by studios, focus groups, pre-screenings that can lead to pure drek.

    I think that if Ubisoft is able to find a director that “gets” the property and they get to nurture that director’s view all the way to release we could very well see something unseen ’til now. Too often book, game and comic book adaptations end up chopped, changed or diluted to where fans have much interest in what’s left.

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