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Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is responsible for some of the biggest movie and TV franchises of all time, and with successful Hollywood projects come video games. “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” in theaters May 25, will have a game companion from Disney Interactive, and Disney Online is launching “Pirates of the Caribbean Online,” a massively multiplayer game aimed at tweens and teens. Bruckheimer also is readying another potential blockbuster movie trilogy with “Prince of Persia,” which is based on the best-selling video game created by Jordan Mechner, who wrote the first draft of the first film’s script.
Bruckheimer took some time to speak with John Gaudiosi of The Hollywood Reporter about how films impact video games and the future of this convergence.
The Hollywood Reporter: When you go into a new film or TV project today, do you think about video games or is it something that comes later?
Bruckheimer: Once you start a movie or once they green light a movie, you certainly look at other ways to get revenue for the product that you’re about to embark on. Video games are another way for a studio to cover their costs and make a little profit. Sometimes movies aren’t successful, but the video game can be successful or it can be successful in Europe or successful elsewhere. So any way you can get something you’re creating out there, whether it’s a video game or an album, or a book, you certainly want to do that.
THR: Do you see video games as the new comic books in Hollywood?
Bruckheimer: Anything we see that we will appropriate and try to purchase, if we feel it’s good for a movie, we’ll buy it. Whether “Top Gun” came from a magazine article or a game, it doesn’t matter. Movies come from ideas. Movies come from books. They come from out of the writer’s mind … just like video games … no different.
THR: There are a lot of retro games like “The Godfather” and “Scarface: The World Is Yours.” Why do you think these are so popular?
Bruckheimer: I think it always depends on the game. If the game is not engaging for a kid or an adult, they’re not going to buy it. The fact is those are really popular titles — those are two amazing movies — so it’s another way for the studio to create additional revenue for something they made many years ago. That’s another way for them to get back their investment or make profit on what they invested in 20 years ago.
THR: What impact could these have on a studio’s library? Francis Ford Coppola reportedly wasn’t happy with “The Godfather” video game. Could games impact relationships with filmmakers?
Bruckheimer: Hopefully, the studio will involve the filmmaker in the game and that would alleviate that kind of problem. If the game had values that the filmmaker thought would enhance his movie, then it’s a different issue. I don’t know what happened with Paramount and “The Godfather.”
THR: How have you seen the video game industry draw from what Hollywood has done?
Bruckheimer: I think they look at our movies and they see how we set up shots, how we deal with characters, how we do things. And I think they mimic that. I don’t think they’re conscious of what they’re doing, but I think it’s part of their memory bank. Then when they watch something, they process the information, store it away and then they reuse it. So I don’t think it’s plagiarism in that sense, but it’s something they’re exposed to. A film like “The Matrix” is something that’s very visual. All of these very visual films, you’ll see the actual shots and angles repeated in video games, and they’ll do the same thing with “Black Hawk Down.” I’ve seen a lot of games that have taken off of what we did in “Black Hawk Down.”
THR: Do you think video games will ever replace the theatrical experience?
Bruckheimer: You mean movies would be gone and it would just be video games? Well, if you put consoles in theaters, it’s a possibility. It’s another way of having entertainment. But I think as far as having the experience of going to a film, that will never go away. I think people want to get out of their houses. Kids are not going to take their girlfriend to the living room with their parents sitting there and watch a movie or play a video game in front of their folks. They might go in their room, but they’re not going to take their girlfriend to their room because their parents will get very upset. So I think gaming is something that kids play together. They play online, but it’s not the same experience as going to a movie.
THR: So games will never eclipse Hollywood, right?
Bruckheimer: I’ll never say never about anything, but I think people like to sit in a dark room and watch a movie and be engaged by a movie. They might have other add-ons where you can manipulate something on the screen. Anything’s possible. I don’t know what’s coming. I just know what’s here now and we try to do the best we can with what we have.
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