The history of movies based on video games is by and large pretty embarrassing so far, which might be why several game publishers have decided to take matters into their own hands when it comes to adapting their properties for the big screen. Ubisoft has launched production company Ubisoft Motion Pictures to create movies like Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs, while Sony Computer Entertainment’s PlayStation franchise Uncharted has a movie version in development at Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures.
In 2011 Tokyo-based company Sega, the publisher of many classic game series including Sonic the Hedgehog and The House of the Dead, started a joint venture with advertising agency Hakuhodo DY Group called Stories International. The purpose of the new company was to extend Sega’s reach into the production of movies, TV shows and other types of entertainment.
Now Stories International has announced that Sega is moving forward with plans to turn some of its best known titles into movies and TV shows, and has hired producer Evan Cholfin to be head of development and production at Stories International. Sega titles being readied for development into other media include Altered Beast, Streets of Rage, Shinobi, Rise of Nightmares and Crazy Taxi, all of which will get either live-action or animated English language spinoffs. Virtua Fighter and Golden Axe are also among the properties being considered.
While it’s true that some of the video game series mentioned, such as Crazy Taxi, became popular purely because of their gameplay and only have very thin stories attached, the same could be said of EA’s Need for Speed franchise – the recent movie adaptation of which was a fun watch and grossed over $200 million at the box office, making it one of the more successful video game adaptations to date.
Other Sega titles have premises that could very easily work well if adapted for other formats. For example, Altered Beast was about a Roman centurion who is resurrected from the dead by Zeus and battles his way through the Underworld to save Athena, transforming into human-animal hybrids in order to defeat his enemies. That’s enough basic material for at least a four-movie franchise right there.
According to the press release, Stories is “looking to partner with the major studios, A-list producers and filmmakers” in order to adapt these properties, emphasizing that the goal is to create English language films, TV shows and digital series for worldwide release. Perhaps one day Crazy Taxi: The Series could be coming to a Netflix near you.
We’ll keep you updated on Sega’s projects as development continues.