Avi Arad Talks UNCHARTED, METAL GEAR SOLID, and MASS EFFECT Movies; Says UNCHARTED Is Closest to Happening

     August 30, 2013


The hit game series Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, and Mass Effect have all had film adaptations stuck in development hell for years.  Uncharted came the closest to the big screen when David O. Russell was attached to write and direct and Mark Wahlberg on board to star as the treasure hunting hero Nathan Drake, but that fell apart.  Neil Burger then got in the director’s chair, but he departed the project about a year later.   Metal Gear Solid has been in development for over five years, and exactly one year ago, we reported that video game developer Konami was actively developing an adaptation.  It’s gone silent ever since.  And as for Mass Effect, almost a year ago we reported that Morgan Davis Foehl had taken over writing duties on the film adaptation.

Now Avi Arad, who is producing all three movies, has provided updates on their status, and the difficulties of adapting video games for the big screen.  Hit the jump for what he had to say.

uncharted-2-among-thieves-wallpaperSpeaking to Kotaku, Arad, whose credits include the Spider-Man movies and a lot of other superhero properties, says that no studio has done it right with the exception of the Resident Evil franchise.  He goes on to say, “I think that film studios are bankers and filmmakers are risk takers and somewhere in between we meet on the battlefield,” said Arad. “And the moment one video game movie goes through the roof, it’s the same thing that I’ve been through with comic books.

He’s absolutely right.  Until some movie gets the ball rolling, studios are going to be skittish.  It also doesn’t help that movie studios aren’t the only ones who are hesitant to adapt these properties.  Franchises are equally important to the game studios if not more so.  That’s why Ubisoft demanded a large amount of control over the upcoming Assassin’s Creed adaptation.  But if that movie or another one like Splinter Cell is a success, it could open the floodgates.

Until that happens, it’s still slow going on Arad’s pictures.  Uncharted is the furthest in its development, and Arad says:

“I think Uncharted 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 realised 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].”

uncharted-3-sinking-shipI agree.  The Uncharted films are essentially really long movies (to the point where I feel it’s to the detriment of the gameplay), and Arad acknowledges that a movie has less time to rope people in.  I still think Uncharted is a good candidate since truncating the set pieces could tighten up the story.  An hour in Uncharted 3 is just trying to escape from a sinking ship.

Arad also believes Metal Gear Solid has the storytelling chops to translate to the big.  “And with Metal Gear,” he says, “you have Cain and Abel.”  Presumably the “Cain and Abel” he’s referring to are Solid Snake and Liquid Snake.  I’m more interested in bringing in Psycho Mantis.  Think how amazing it would be if halfway through the fight, the projector “broke” and the audience didn’t know how to handle it.  Sadly, Arad says a Metal Gear Solid adaptation is at least three years away even though he’ll be having dinner soon with creator Hideo Kojima.  Nevertheless, negotiations between studios are long and tedious, and the film will probably remain in stasis until an agreement is reached.

Finally, don’t expect to see the Normandy flying at your multiplex anytime soon.  Arad says the motion picture adaptation of Mass Effect could be five to six years away.  “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. “Love the project, it’s getting there, it’s been a lot of work; some movies take five, six years before they’re ready.”

What’s encouraging about all of these projects is that Arad seems to get them.  He’s accepting the games on their terms.  It’s possible the films could still turn out as bad as every other video game movie, and that’s if they come out at all.  But I think at the very least, we should take comfort that a sensible producer is on board.


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  • Roderick

    In which universe is Uncharted about a “father and son”? Sounds like the same script that had Robert de Niro and Mark Wahlberg, god help us, as Nathan Drake and his dad. Or the other way round – whatever.

    • http://colormebacon.com/ Nick Sears

      He’s putting it into real simple formulaic terms for the script. Harry Flynn is that father figure to Nathan Drake, tho they’re not actually father+son in the story.

      • LEM

        Harry Flynn?

      • http://colormebacon.com/ Nick Sears

        Yeah, Sully, sorry.

      • Roderick

        You mean Sully? Harry Flynn is Drake’s age. The reported script had de Niro as Drake’s father and Joe Pesci (yes) as his uncle. This “family dynamic” in the script was denied by the director of Uncharted 3, but confirmed by Wahlberg. So to have it resurface here looks a lot like they’re working from the same (horrifying-sounding) script.

      • LEM

        Yeah they need to burn every copy of that script.

      • Roderick

        Or what the hell, go for broke and cast Sharon Stone as Drake’s aunt Agatha.

      • http://colormebacon.com/ Nick Sears


    • LEM

      They may not mean literally but the relationship is familial and is displayed that way in the game.Sully is a father figure for Drake and we learned he is actually a surrogate father after Uncharted 3. I hope they never make the movie though because it will just tarnish the game.

    • Tonelowke

      I thought he meant fathers and sons played the game and thus has a wide age range appeal for getting people into the theater to see such a movie. But I guess the Sully/Drake relationship makes sense too. But him ACTUALLY having his father in the movie ala The Last Crusade is kinda lame.

    • OhDawg

      I remember when Russell talked about how Uncharted was about family and how important it is and how we build a family of people around us. Hint: It really isn’t. And I really hope they don’t do an old “daddy issues” thing with Drake and Sully, because that is not the relationship that they have. And while the series is certainly heavily influenced by Indiana Jones, I have no need to see Uncharted: The Last Crusade. But saying it’s “father and son” could mean lots of things, so nothing’s certain.

  • Les enfant terribles

    Metal Gear Solid, pleaaaseeeeee make it happen Hollywood, along with Hideo Kojima. Slap blue contact lenses on Christian Bale and make him hit the gym so he gets in the same shape he was in Equilibrium for example, cut his hair like Snakes and slap a bandana on him and even though movies like these will never win academy awards (that’s not why they should be made) and just be fun summer popcorn movies, let C.B method-act the fuck out of an icon like Snake. He’ll be perfect as a cynical, grumpy and disillusioned soldier and anti-hero that Snake is.

    • LEM

      They’ll never do that game justice in a movie.

    • Raziël Makenshi

      they also need to remove his eye wart

  • Kondorr

    Resident Evil franchise did it right??? Seriously…

    Tell me you did not write this:
    “no studio has done it right with the exception of the Resident Evil franchise”

    This is the biggest BS since… since… the last entry in the Resi Movie franchise…

    • Tonelowke

      Remember Arad is looking from the money perspective, and the Resident Evil franchise has made a lot of money. Right is in the eye of the beholder.

      • Kondorr

        It was not the money perspective that made coomic book movies great… it were creative peopple who cared about the properties, like nolan and feige…

        The money perspective created Uwe Boll.. and I hope kickstarter will trash him!

      • AManWithAKilt

        That’s not the point he’s trying to make. The article is talking about the lack of commercial success in video game movies as being the reason studios avoid them. He isn’t talking about it’s quality as a movie.

      • LEM

        The funny thing is they’re not successful because all they do is buy the name and make whatever movie they want. Uncharted with Deniro as Drakes’ dad and Pesci as an uncle? why bother. Decisions like that alienate the built in audience immediately.

      • Tonelowke


    • Homer Lannister

      I find it funny how resi fans always slam the movies for having terrible convoluted and silly stories, when the games have just as terrible, just as convoluted and just as silly stories.

      • Kondorr

        The Resi game stories are convulted and silly, yes… but these are typical japanese stories… them guys just do things their way…

        Its that the americanized version of the same thing just does not work… another thing is, that the last Resi movie was totally without a coherent plot…

      • LEM

        Uncharted is pretty solid though I never liked the supernatural stuff which they kind of changed in the third game.

  • Nate B.

    Can’t believe this Goldberg clown actually believe the Resident Evil series was “done right”, seriously the guy’s turning into the white Armond White.

    • diles1

      Arad said that

      • Nate B.

        oops, so he did. Oh well, what I said about Goldberg still stands.

      • Daniel O’Reilly

        Yep. You could tell it was Goldberg writing the story without even reading the byline.

      • Strong Enough

        what an idiot. just shut up.

  • Doug_101

    I honestly don’t see what the point of making these games into movies is. They’re already practically movies as they are – damn good ones too. All making a movie out of something like Mass Effect can do is ensure that there will be another product out there called Mass Effect that pales in comparison to the games. I almost feel that if they want to make a movie out of a video game, they should pick games that aren’t as heavily scripted as these three. I know they tried to do it with Mario Brothers (brrrr….), but maybe something like Metroid? I’m a Sony guy, so I don’t play Halo – isn’t that more about the character of Master Chief than the actual plot or story? That could work too or mash together a bunch of Zelda game tropes and make a fantasy film.

    • Homer Lannister

      You just lack vision my friend. Remember when Lord of the rings, watchmen and life of pi were unfilmable? remember when even the thought of the avengers together on screen seemed ridiculous or game of thrones for that matter? You suggesting that Mass Effect or any other heavily scripted game is more complex than any of these original properties??

      There is no material under the sun that cannot be adapted properly. All it needs is the right people working on it, and unfortunately video games have until this point never attracted the kind of film makers that would make great and even better movies (bar Duncan Jones).

      The caliber of the majority of the people that have worked on video games movies so far has been pretty low, hence the quality of the movies. That’s also why fans are afraid of anybody touching their games, thinking that it is impossible to make a good movie out of a video game which is completely untrue given that far more complex material has been adapted for the screen before.

      Name any awesome video game and I can name a director and writer that would knock that shit out of the park.

      • Doug_101

        I’m not saying they’re more complex, what I’m saying is, with the level of sophistication and technology in video games these days, movies–for these properties in particular–are redundant.

        You mentioned Duncan Jones and I think the World of Warcraft movie could really work well, because it’s not already a heavily scripted video game. Jones can create his own vision in that world and score big.

        The initial argument you made was for books that rely on imagination and an interpretation. With video games like these, it’s almost like the film will be a remake of another movie.

  • Grayden

    While I’d love to see Mass Effect on the big screen, making it into a film presents a lot of difficulties. So many choices, whether they changed the outcome of your game or not, were still choices that had an impact on the gamer either way. Assuming they’re aiming for a trilogy with each film representing each game, there’s a lot that’s going to be cut and/or streamlined. Everyone will have to survive so their death’s later on in the third film will have an impact (i.e. Thane and Mordin). It’s almost like adapting a choose-you-own-adventure, but putting everything on a linear arc by removing the choice aspect. They’d have an infinitely harder time even planning it out if they didn’t do that, and I can understand why it’s taking them so long to develop it. I just hope they can do it justice.

  • Strong Enough

    Speaking to Kotaku, Arad, whose credits include the Spider-Man movies and a lot of other superhero properties, says that no studio has done it right with the exception of the Resident Evil franchise

    ^ I stopped right there

  • The_Smirking_Revenge

    Can we please stop with the tryin’ to turn video games into movies..? It doesn’t work. It never has. Before you all chime in, yeah, yeah, Resident Evil has a million sequels, but they’re all really bad. They just happen to be made cheap enough to actually make a little money.

    Completely changing everything about Uncharted and making it a movie is not making an Uncharted movie. It’s making your own movie and capitalizing on “Uncharted” as a brand, and that’s not only a dick thing to do to fans of the game franchise, but completely unnecessary. The Story is just fine as it is. That’s what people wanna see. Not Mark Wahlberg mad-dogging it up with De Niro and Pesci. What is this, a fuckin’ Goodfellas reunion? While you’re at it, why don’t you just turn Mass Effect into a Civil war epic.

    None of this sounds good, so please, just leave it alone. But this is Hollywood where the motto is; “If we can’t make it good, make it anyway…so at least we still maintain the rights.”

  • Farty Fartsalot

    What would be the point of “Uncharted”? Just watch “Raider of the Lost Ark” instead.

  • Farty Fartsalot

    What would be the point of “Uncharted”? Just watch “Raider of the Lost Ark” instead.

  • DaWookiee

    I don’t think he meant that the Mass Effect movie is 5-6 years away. He said some movies take 5-6 years, but it’s already been in development for 2, so hopefully it’s more like 3 or 4 years away. Maybe just wishful thinking on my part.

  • Matt Hardwick

    “I think Uncharted will be very successful. It’s a father and son game.”

    Erm, no it’s not! :P

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