Gaming properties have not had a good history being adapted into movies, with most being critically panned and many turning up disappointing box office results. David Hayter, having both worked on screenplays for movies like X-Men and Watchmen along with voicing Metal Gear Solid‘s hero Solid Snake, has a balanced perspective on the issue.
“For me the idea of whether or not to adapt a game into a movie is, is it an interesting enough world, is it a visual enough world and does it have characters that you want to follow without being in control of them,” he said. “If it’s a game I like and something I can see being a movie, then I think it should be turned into a movie. If it’s something that just has a certain amount of profit potential but they don’t get the right people to do it, [that’s when] you run into trouble.”
“The history has been less than stellar in the same way that comic book adaptations were less than stellar before we really did X-Men. The [Tim Burton] Batman movies were fine and Richard Donner’s Superman movies were amazing, but I think the reason the other comic book movies prior to 2000 were horrible was because the studios didn’t take the storytelling seriously, described Hayter. When we were adapting X-Men, the first X-Men, [the studio] kept saying, Why is it so serious? Why are these people so serious? It’s like, ‘Well . . . it’s life and death, and the world hates them and [everyone is] trying to kill them, so you’d be serious too. So I think there is a huge element of studio executives seeing the value and the numbers that the video games sell in but [they] don’t really appreciate how elevated that medium has become, and how far beyond studio movies video games have become.”
“If you don’t take the source material seriously, then you’re never going to adapt it well. And you’re certainly never going to adapt it to the standards of video game fans, who are pretty exacting and have come to expect a pretty serious product when they put down their money, he continued. “What it will take is a few truly great game adaptations to come in and make the kind of money that an Iron Man does or the X-Men movies did. And suddenly you will be getting better quality in terms of the writing and the directors that come on board these things. I just think there’s still a subtle prejudice with them that has to be gotten around.”
Perhaps if Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time does as well as Disney hopes, it’ll mark a major turning point for movie adaptations of games the way X-Men was for comic movies.