games reporter

If you're in mood for 'Sin,' film isn't only place to look

Some films seem so perfect for converting to video games that one wonders why it never happened. Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" movies, for example.

Or perhaps Frank Miller's "Sin City." Imagine what a savvy publisher with experience in making great games from movies — such as Electronic Arts or Activision — could do if it were able to enlist the images and voice acting of the 2005 film's considerable talent, including Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood and Mickey Rourke.

But when the "Sin" game hits store shelves around Christmas 2009, there will be no stars, no day-and-date marketing with the film's sequel, "Sin City 2," and the publisher's name on the box — Red Mile Entertainment — will be unknown to even the most hard-core gamers.

Indeed, the fledgling gamemaker has secured the rights not to either of the movies but to the seven graphic novels that comprised their source material.

"It's just one of those calls you have to make in the games industry," says company president and COO Glenn Wong, previously president of Electronic Arts Canada, arguably the world's largest video game studio. "We decided that the 'Sin City' graphic novels, with their dark images and nonlinear stories, would work better as the basis for an interactive game."

It doesn't hurt, of course, that it's far less expensive to license the books than the movies, but Wong says that didn't enter into the equation. "We wanted to go back to the source material instead of the filtered version that people saw on the big screen," he says.

Wong recognizes that, in making that call, he forgoes the one-two marketing punch associated with releasing a game day-and-date with its cinematic counterpart. After all, a simultaneous release might have been easily arranged because "Sin City 2" is in preproduction and scheduled to hit theaters next year. And one of its directors — "Sin" creator-author-artist Frank Miller — is the game's licensor.

"We'd like to think that we'll be able to capitalize on whatever awareness of 'Sin City' is generated by the second film," Wong says. "But frankly, I don't even know when that's scheduled to be released."

Wong says he is simply elated that his company was able to secure the rights to the "Sin" game. After all, Sausalito, Calif.-based Red Mile, which opened in 2006, has only a few titles under its belt, including "Jackass: The Game" and "Crusty Demons: The Game."

The "Sin" game is just six months into production with a crew of 35-50 at Melbourne, Australia-based developer Transmission Games (formerly IR Gurus). Its plan is to build the game on three platforms — Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii — using the Unreal 3 engine.

One thing is for sure: According to Wong, with all the effort going into turning Miller's concepts into interactive entertainment, the plan is to build on that technology and create a game franchise regardless of how well the first game sells.

"We'd like to finish game No. 1 in a year and a half," he says, "and then turn out a sequel every other year after that. The beauty of Frank Miller's work is that it's so rich with so many characters that, once a gamer gets a real good taste of 'Sin City,' they're not going to say, 'OK, I've seen it all.' They're going to say, 'So when do I get more?' "
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