Although Sony Pictures and Sony Computer Entertainment are sister companies under the Sony umbrella, they have yet to collaborate on a theatrical movie release based on an exclusive PlayStation franchise. While that track record won’t be broken with the new Ratchet & Clank movie, which Focus Features, a division of Universal Pictures, will bring to the big screen domestically in April 2016, the deal marks the first time a PlayStation franchise will be featured on the big screen.
Blockade Entertainment and Rainmaker Entertainment have collaborated with Sony and independent developer Insomniac Games on a 3D computer-animated Ratchet & Clank origin story. The movie is screening at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The movie features Sylvester Stallone as Victor, Paul Giamatti as Chairman Drek, John Goodman as Grimroth, Bella Thorne as Cora, and Rosario Dawson as Elaris.
These latest celebrity cast members join the voice talent from the successful Ratchet & Clank video game franchise: James Arnold Taylor as Ratchet, David Kaye as Clank, Armin Shimerman as Nefarious, and Jim Ward as Captain Qwark. Ratchet & Clank is directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and co-directed by Jericca Cleland. Former Insomniac Games writer TJ Fixman wrote the original screenplay draft, with director Kevin Munroe contributing significantly to the script.
Ratchet & Clank tells the story of two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. Ratchet is the last of his kind — a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone on a backwater planet with no family of his own. Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way, they will learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity.
Sony and Insomniac Games will release a re-imagined PlayStation 4 Ratchet & Clank game in April in tandem with the theatrical release. Foxhoven discusses this latest video game adaptation for the big screen in this exclusive interview.
What does Focus Features bring to the table for the theatrical release?
Focus is an idea partner — having done a fantastic job in managing the releases around Boxtrolls, ParaNorman and Coraline. They have a great understanding and respect for the game franchise, and the value of the fan base to the process.
How big a domestic release will the film get?
This will be considered a wide release. The exact amount of theaters has yet to be finalized.
Can you talk about the release date and what opportunity you see for this film in that window?
The reason why the film was moved into 2016 has to do with the release windows, and trying to maximize the time between competing films. April 29 gives us a solid amount of opportunity to be in theaters for as long as possible.
How will the film be distributed internationally?
CMG, an international sales company, is handing the overseas distribution for us. They have already sold the film in over 25 international territories in most major markets now. They are back in Cannes at the moment, locking down the remaining markets. Ratchet & Clank is set to be the most successful 3D animated feature for CMG since it started licensing independently produced animated features in 2004.
Who’s handling the home video release?
Universal Home Video.
How will you cross-promote the Ratchet film with Sony’s fan base?
The best thing that we are doing is aligning the PS4 game and the film. They are complementary stories and play off each other quite well.
With so many stories that have been told over the years, how did you decide on the plot of the film?
Our goal was to try to walk the line on creating a film that would both pay tribute to the fans who already knew and loved the franchise, as well as bring in a new generation of fans to the Ratchet & Clank world. At the core, this is an origin story for both Ratchet & Clank, and their first heroic journey together.
What do you think this CGI approach will bring to the video game movie genre, given that so many live action movies haven’t fared well at the box office?
We have the luxury of not having to worry about what actor will play Ratchet — he will look like he looks in the games (with some nice CG polish). He will sound like he is supposed to with James Arnold Taylor reprising his role. The challenge those live action adaptations have is trying to match audience expectations when they try to case a certain actor into the role. Thankfully, Insomniac gave us a killer set of digital assets to draw upon.
How important is it to have a game and movie out at the same time — a rarity in Hollywood these days?
I don’t think this is a necessity, unless it makes sense creatively. Meaning, the plot of both need to somehow support one another. We were in an advantageous position of having both PlayStation and Insomniac as part of the overall process. They were able to know how to develop a game that would follow the story of the film, but still have a unique voice. Typically a top tier game developer like Insomniac isn’t working on a film-based game. In our case, however, they were to the benefit of everyone involved.
What other games are you bringing to the big screen?
In addition to Sly Cooper, we have two others that are in the early stages of development/pre-production. One of them should be in a place to announce later this year.