Although there has often been a certain stigma attached to movies based on video games, they seem to be coming into their own this year. From the launch of a Ratchet & Clank movie to Assassin’s Creed sneaking its way to the big screen, the partnership between video games and movies is really starting to grow. Here are some of the big films to look forward to, and how they’re getting fans out to theaters.
Ratchet & Clank
Release Date: April 29, 2016
In a dizzying circle of events, the new Ratchet & Clank video game is based on the movie, which is based on the original 2002 video game. As it turns out, the game is being very well-received by players, which makes it the perfect promotion to convince audiences to head out and watch the movie when it hits theaters tomorrow. The story recounts how a mechanic named Ratchet met his robotic best friend, Clank, as they head out into the galaxy for adventure.
But the film isn’t completely relying on the game’s broad fanbase for success. It’s sharing some of the quirky humor with a little web game called the Sheepinator, where you use a wacky weapon to change floating enemies in space, who are quoting mean tweets, into baa-ing sheep. This is then transformed into an animated gif, which can be shared on social media.
The Angry Birds Movie
Release Date: May 20, 2016
The hit puzzle mobile game, where players launch a variety of upset birds to wreck pig-created constructs, has extended its brand to cover everything from a cartoon show to a cereal. Therefore, given how the franchise has millions of fans worldwide, an Angry Birds movie seemed inevitable. Although Angry Birds 2 released last summer, it had no apparent tie-ins with the upcoming movie, which stars the voices of Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live; Horrible Bosses) Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) and Bill Hader (Inside Out; Superbad). That means Sony Pictures Entertainment had to be more creative in getting audiences acquainted with the characters.
The movie’s main character, Red, had a float featured at last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and a specially-themed Lego set is set to launch around the same time as the movie. Furthermore, in an apparent partnership with AMC Theaters, a short video was released to promote the benefits of watching movies in theaters instead of waiting for them to release on home video. This was later followed by a very cute Easter video.
However, the best reason to watch the movie in theaters is because of a pinball-inspired 3D game called Angry Birds Action! The game lets players control Red as he “smashes and crashes through obstacles and bounces from wall to wall like a wrecking ball—all in the name, of course, of saving precious and fragile eggs.” An extra level for the game can be unlocked by using the game to scan for an inaudible digital watermark that’s embedded in the movie’s closing credits.
Dead Rising: Endgame
Release Date: Sometime In Summer 2016
Dead Rising: Endgame is the official sequel to the live-action zombie comedy Dead Rising: Watchtower. Like its predecessor, the gore-filled film based on the hit video game franchise will debut exclusively on Sony’s Crackle streaming service. Although there hasn’t been much revealed about the movie since its announcement last spring at Upfront, the full cast was revealed last February. Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas) and Keegan Connor Tracy (Final Destination 2; 40 Days and 40 Nights) will reprise their roles as Chase and Jordan respectively, and they are joined by Billy Zane (Titanic; Back the Future), Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100; 50/50), and Patrick Sabongui (300; Godzilla; TRON: Legacy). The plot follows Chase and his companions as they make their way through a zombie-infested quarantine zone to stop a secret government conspiracy.
Promotion for the first movie relied heavily on word-of-mouth, coupled with whatever enthusiasm was created by the game Dead Rising 3 (which launched for PC a few months before Watchtower‘s premiere). While that might have been enough to generate a significant amount of interest last year, a new Dead Rising game isn’t expected to come out for quite some time. So, it will be interesting to see if the same strategy will be used to promote the sequel, and whether or not (and to what extent) Sony will use the PlayStation 4 to get the word out about Crackle’s original content.
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Few game franchises are as well-known as Warcraft, particularly because of the immensely popular World of Warcraft and its spin-off collectible card game Hearthstone. Now the war between humans and orcs in the fantasy world of Azeroth will finally hit the big screen.
The movie’s first trailer debuted at BlizzCon last year, which is coincidentally the same day Activision Blizzard Studios was announced, however, this movie is being made by Legendary Entertainment. The movie released a very impressive 360-degree video last year, which let viewers ride high on a griffin, and a new (regular) movie trailer released last week.
Blizzard also seems to be testing how movie interest could lead to better World of Warcraft subscriber numbers, since it issued a survey in February that asked people if they’d be interested in a “World of Warcraft Ultimate Movie Edition,” that comes with all of the game’s expansions that would be included with the purchase of a movie ticket. Although that promotion hasn’t been put into effect, it certainly would be a big one, considering how the next expansion Legion won’t release until the end of August—over two months after the movie comes out. On the other hand, the newest Hearthstone expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods has helped the game top over 50 million players, so the Warcraft lore is getting out there in one way or another.
Release Date: Dec. 21, 2016
Although last winter’s Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was praised by both fans and critics, nothing quite revitalizes a long-standing video game franchise like a new movie starring Michael Fassbender (Prometheus; X-Men: Days of Future Past). However, with the movie’s premiere set for December, there hasn’t been a ton of promotion for it yet, apart from a number of action screens. There isn’t even an official trailer yet, and although the website dedicated to the fictional company, Abstergo (which is at war with the Assassins) seems promising, it isn’t fully functional yet.
Other upcoming promotions include a VR experience that is currently being developed by Practical Magic in partnership with Ubisoft, but no details have been revealed about it yet. So, fans will just have to wait and see how the Assassin’s Creed movie promotion grows and develops as the year progresses.
Although 2016 is looking to be a great year for video game movies, it could be just the start. Next year promises to bring the final Resident Evil movie, along with a new Tomb Raider film that has already cast Daisy Ridley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the lead role of Lara Croft. Then there’s an Uncharted movie and a possible film based on the Call of Duty franchise. Movies and video games can look forward to a long relationship.