From 'The Last of Us' to 'Resident Evil' to an anime series based on 'Cyberpunk: 2077,' here are a number of properties heading to the big (and small) screen from the world of gaming.
Among the sea of video game adaptations that have released in the last few decades, some are totally watchable and whimsically fun (Mortal Kombat, The Angry Birds Movie) while plenty of others are questionable at best (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Super Mario Bros.). Lately, Netflix's adaptation of The Witcher really raised the bar, and Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog were definitely impressive — sequels to the latter are both already in the works. So, the pressure is raging hot for the next crop of game re-imaginings set to debut on the big and small screen.
Given how tricky it can be to keep track of the immeasurable amount of content being produced, The Hollywood Reporter has compiled this handy list of major upcoming video game adaptations. Some already have a scheduled release date, while others are still floating in development as big-name stars attach to the project.
From the much-anticipated HBO adaptation of The Last of Us to The Witcher prequel series Blood Origin, the list includes a robust menu of animation, hardcore action, fantasy and adventure that ensures every game fan will be offered an opportunity to find their next cinematic obsession.
Among the most well-known video game figures on this list, at least in the mainstream arena, is the incredibly athletic, fiercely independent young archaeologist Lara Croft. The character was created by Toby Gard in 1995 and since then has appeared in numerous Tomb Raider video games and comic books that require her to survive in harsh environments and solve mysterious puzzles before figuring out the secrets of her family.
In 2001, Angelina Jolie played Croft in Simon West's film adaptation, starring opposite her father Jon Voight. This was followed by Alicia Vikander taking over the role in Roar Uthaug's 2018 version — penned by Geneva Robertson-Dworet who went on to write Captain Marvel — which earned over $270 million at the global box office.
The sequel is being written by Free Fire's Amy Jump. Originally scheduled for March 2021, there is currently no release date for the movie.
Alongside the Uncharted screen adaptation in development, a viral fan film by Norwegian filmmaker Martin Sofiedal made an impact on the gaming community as the director gained enough attention that he was invited to tour the Naughty Dog premises in Los Angeles.
Naughty Dog's shooter adventure game Uncharted, created at the studio by Amy Hennig, has been floating a theatrical version for many years with various different creatives on board including Seth Gordon and then Shawn Levy, who eventually left the project to direct Free Guy. Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) has now signed on, with Spider-Man star Tom Holland set to topline as Nathan Drake opposite Bryan Cranston. The screenplay from Joe Carnahan and Rafe Judkins is said to take place before the events of the video game.
Nathan Drake, the game's lead character, has some die-hard fans, perhaps because he is depicted as a likable everyman type who understands the sheer absurdity of each death-defying adventure he accepts.
Uncharted will release July 16, 2021.
Fresh off the success of Deadpool 2, David Leitch is on board to direct a big-screen adaptation of Ubisoft's The Division, replacing Stephen Gaghan. Leitch is a former stuntman who doubled Brad Pitt on five movies including Fight Club and Ocean's 11.
Similar to the game, which is set in the aftermath of a viral smallpox pandemic, the film is set in the near future, when a pandemic virus has erupted in New York City on Black Friday. The strategic Homeland Division is deployed to restore peace to society while government scientists work on a cure.
Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal are set to star. There is currently no release date for the project.
The latest title in the video game series was Tom Clancy's The Division 2, which launched in March.
First-person shooter title Call of Duty entered the world in the early 2000s and has been a keeper in the video game collections of gamers looking for a hardcore action experience in the setting of World War II, or the future, or space, or the Cold War.
In 2018, Black Ops 4 pulled in over $500 million in its first three days of release; by year's end it had hit the $1 billion mark, which suggests there would be an eager audience for a movie version.
Sicario 2 director Stefano Sollima is set to helm the film adaptation for Activision Blizzard Studios alongside writer Kieran Fitzgerald (Snowden), though details about the project remain under wraps.
In a 2018 interview with Polygon, Sollima said that he has played numerous Call of Duty games in the franchise and also plays with his kids. He also teased his approach to the material, calling it "not a war movie, but a soldier movie."
Currently the project does not have a release date.
"An advanced tank is stolen by a terrorist group and an elite solider, Solid Snake, is dispatched to retrieve it."
That is the synopsis provided for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid film adaptation from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer, Kong: Skull Island), though there are few other details about the project currently available.
In a recent roundtable discussion with IGN, Oscar Isaac was asked what video game adaptation he would like to star in and mentioned the franchise. Vogt-Roberts responded by tweeting, "To everyone asking how I feel about Oscar Isaac saying he wants to be Solid Snake. The full process required to cast an icon hasn’t even started, but.. The ball’s in Oscar’s court."
Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid has been one of the most popular PlayStation games since its debut in 1998, a follow-up to the writer and director's earlier creation, Metal Gear.
With the movie's production schedule impacted by the pandemic, it does not have a release date.
And now for something on the small screen.
Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black) has been cast as Spartan Master Chief in the Showtime TV series adaptation of the first-person shooter Xbox franchise Halo. Master Chief is a genetically enhanced super soldier clad in green armor and a helmet in the games, and it is unclear whether Schreiber will take on this anonymity or show his face in the lead role.
Casting information has trickled out slowly, with the only other definite being Australian actress Yerin Ha, who will play a new character in the Halo universe. The plot of the series will follow the storyline of the game, which portrays a 26th century conflict between humanity and an alien race known as the Covenant.
Steven Kane (American Dad!, The Last Ship) and Kyle Killen (Awake) will serve as showrunners on the series, which is due to begin production in Budapest, Hungary, this fall. The show is set to premiere on Showtime in 2021.
The unique thing about Skull and Bones is that the source material it is based on, a pirate adventure game from Ubisoft, has not yet been released. Yet Ubisoft is charging forward in its push to develop film and TV, having teamed with Atlas Entertainment (Dirty John) for the TV series adaptation.
Described as a live-action, female-driven pirate drama set during the golden age of piracy, the show is written and executive produced by Amanda Segel (Person of Interest, The Mist). There is currently no release date.
"Skull & Bones is going to be an incredible game, and will make a compelling television series that we're all very excited about at Atlas," said Andy Horowitz at Atlas Entertainment. "From the moment we saw the trailer in 2017, we became excited about its potential, and this type of IP is exactly what we've been looking for in television. We very much look forward to this partnership with Ubisoft."
Previous Ubisoft games that have seen their IP adapted include Assassins Creed, which became a feature from director Justin Kurzel in 2016, and The Division, an upcoming film helmed by David Leitch and starring Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal. Ubisoft is also currently producing a live-action comedy series for Apple.
In what began as a single game created by Kaname Fujioka, Monster Hunter rapidly expanded into a franchise where hunters are tasked with battling epic monsters in extremely harsh environments.
The film version of this sprawling action adventure is helmed by director and writer Paul W.S. Anderson, whose credits include Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Afterlife. Milla Jovovich heads the cast in the role of Artemis, leader of a UN military team tasked with tracking and killing monsters, with Ron Perlman, rapper T.I. and Meagan Good rounding out the cast. Mexican star Diego Boneta will play a communications specialist and member of Artemis' team.
Monster Hunter is set for release in December this year.
The emotional and adventurous story of Ellie and Joel is coming to HBO.
In November, the premium cable outlet picked up the post-apocalyptic drama based on Neil Druckmann’s action-adventure game The Last of Us from developer Naughty Dog.
The show will be written by Druckmann and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl). The games center on Joel (voiced by veteran actor Troy Baker), a survivor of the apocalypse, who smuggles Ellie, 14-year-old girl (played by Ashley Johnson) out of a quarantine zone. They come to depend on each other for survival and friendship, though major cracks in their relationship also come to the surface.
This year at The Game Awards, The Last of Us Part II is nominated for game of the year, among numerous other categories.
No casting information for the series has been announced.
Netflix has ordered eight episodes of a series based on the Resident Evil franchise, which was launched by Captom in 1996.
Supernatural showrunner Andrew Dabb, who lists Resident Evil as his favorite game of all time, will oversee the show. "I'm incredibly excited to tell a new chapter in this amazing story and bring the first-ever Resident Evil series to Netflix members around the world,” he told THR back in August. "For every type of Resident Evil fan, including those joining us for the first time, the series will be complete with a lot of old friends, and some things (bloodthirsty, insane things) people have never seen before."
Netflix has greenlit an anime-style series for Netflix based on the long-running Splinter Cell franchise, with John Wick screenwriter Derek Kolstad executive producing along with game developer Ubisoft.
Splinter Cell centers on black ops agent Sam Fisher, who works for a national security agency known as Third Echelon.
Netflix is following up its Henry Cavill-starring adaptation of The Witcher with a prequel series called Blood Origin, the streamer revealed in July.
The show will be set in an elven world 1,200 years before the events of The Witcher and will tell the origin story of the first Witcher character. Declan de Barra will serve as showrunner.
"As a lifelong fan of fantasy, I am beyond excited to tell the story The Witcher: Blood Origin," de Barra said in a statement. "A question has been burning in my mind ever since I first read The Witcher books: What was the Elven world really like before the cataclysmic arrival of the humans? I've always been fascinated by the rise and fall of civilizations, how science, discovery and culture flourish right before that fall. How vast swathes of knowledge are lost forever in such a short time, often compounded by colonization and a rewriting of history. Leaving only fragments of a civilization’s true story behind. The Witcher: Blood Origin will tell the tale of the Elven civilization before its fall, and most importantly reveal the forgotten history of the very first Witcher."
Urban fantasy role-playing video game Disco Elysium, from independent game developer ZA/UM, is being adapted for television by production company DJ2 Entertainment.
Inspired by Robert Kurvitz's 2013 novel Sacred and Terrible Air, Disco Elysium centers on a detective with a mysterious past who is tasked with solving a crime that threatens to set off a civil war.
It was released in 2019 and went on to win best narrative, best independent game, best RPG and more at the Game Awards that year.
"We’re so gratified at the response Disco Elysium has received, and very happy to be teaming with DJ2 to expand the franchise for other media and new audiences," said lead narrative writer Helen Hindpere, in a statement.
The long-running role-playing game franchise Final Fantasy is coming to the small screen, with Sony Pictures Television and Square Enix producing the live-action series.
Many details remain under wraps, but the show will offer an original story set in the world of Eorzea, which was first introduced in Final Fantasy XIV and include characters and elements from the franchise, which spans 32 years and 15 entries in the main series.
The plot will explore "the struggle between magic and technology in a quest to bring peace to a land in conflict."
From Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan, an adaptation of the post-apocalyptic role-playing franchise Fallout is in the works at Amazon.
The first game debuted in 1997 and followed a worldwide nuclear war in an alternate future envisioned by Americans in the 1940s.
"Fallout is one of the greatest game series of all time," Joy and Nolan said in a joint statement at the time the project was revealed. "Each chapter of this insanely imaginative story has cost us countless hours we could have spent with family and friends. So we're incredibly excited to partner with Todd Howard and the rest of the brilliant lunatics at Bethesda to bring this massive, subversive, and darkly funny universe to life with Amazon Studios.
Cyberpunk 2077 has not been released yet, but there is already an anime series in the works at Netflix.
The 10-episode show, titled Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, hails from anime studio Trigger and game developer CD Projekt Red and follows a street kid trying to survive in a tech-obsessed city by becoming a mercenary — called an edgerunner.
Hiroyuki Imaishi will direct the series, which is set to bow on the streaming platform in 2022.
Stuber director Michael Dowse is helming the adaptation of action-adventure game franchise Just Cause.
First released in 2006, the open-world games follow secret agent Rico Rodriguez on a race against time mission to stop a lethal mercenary group. There are few plot details on the adaptation so far, though it will include the character's well known grappling hook and wing suit.
As the third feature adaptation of the action-adventure fighting games, this version of Mortal Kombat features Supergirl star Mehcad Brooks and Thor: Ragnarok actor Tadanobu Asano and is directed by veteran commercial director Simon McQuoid.
The games were first introduced in 1992 and have gone on to sell over 49 million copies and spawn dozens of expansions, making it one of the most profitable video game franchises of all time.
Previously, the games were adapted into movies in 1995 and 1997, from directors Paul W.S. Anderson and John R. Leonetti. This version, simply titled Mortal Kombat, is scheduled to release in January, 2021.
Popular world-building game Minecraft is getting a film adaptation from Peter Sollett (Freeheld) — who replaced It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia actor Rob McElhenney — and The Lego Movie producer Roy Lee.
Its synopsis is described as, "The malevolent Ender Dragon sets out on a path of destruction, prompting a young girl and her group of unlikely adventurers to set out to save the Overworld."
Details remain under wraps, though the film is scheduled to release in March, 2022.