Brash times for H'wood, gamers


(Originally published June 27, 2007)

Legendary Pictures chairman and CEO Thomas Tull spoke Wednesday about how the creative process and storytelling skills of film translate to the world of video games at the Hollywood & Games Summit at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.

Tull -- a self-professed film and video game geek whose Legendary Pictures provided no less than half of the production budget for Warner Bros. Pictures' "Superman Returns" as well as backing for "Batman Begins" and "300" -- described how his latest venture film-centered game studio, Brash Entertainment, will further his involvement in the gaming world.

"We're at an amazing crossroads from a technical standpoint and a storytelling standpoint," Tull said. "In terms of investments, we have enough capital that the video games are starting to look more and more like movies."

His keynote was moderated by Game Developers Conference's Jamil Moledina and also featured Brash Entertainment CEO Mitch Davis. It was the final day of the two-day conference, which is sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter and Game Developers Conference.

Tull noted that not every film translates well to games and that games based on films should not just be thought of as ancillary.

"It's a very dangerous thing to take a brand and slap it on a box and think consumers will buy it," Tull said. "We all know it takes a lot longer to develop a game than it does a movie, and if you rely solely on a brand and not on gameplay it's a mistake."

He also noted that talent from the movie side is becoming increasingly more involved in the creation of games.

"From my experience, directors want to be very involved more and more -- especially if you capture the spirit of the film," he said.

He also expressed his belief that most video games do not serve to successfully inspire films.

"Probably most video games should not be made into movies," Tull said.

For his part, Davis noted Brash Entertainment's partnerships with 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate and Warner Bros., among other studios, and the studio's plans for a video game based on the "Saw" franchise.

He attributed technology, business and creative innovation as the impetus behind the rising video game industry.

"It's always about innovation and people in this industry moving the boundaries forward," Tull said. "If you get the best talent from the game and Hollywood industry, you'll get the best quality."

Also Wednesday, panelists spoke about how game companies are working more closely with such studios as Walt Disney/Pixar and Sony Pictures Animation and how next-generation consoles are narrowing the creative gap between Hollywood blockbusters and game franchises.

Todd Pilger, who heads 3-D development at Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, said that when translating a movie to a game, creators should take into consideration the look and feel of the film and that the next-generation consoles are making greater authenticity more and more possible.

"For a game you need a film look, and the next-generation consoles are allowing that," Pilger said. "Now we're much more focused on using the technology."

Said Giles Garceau, director of animation for Ubisoft: "As the engines become faster, it's almost comparable to film because we're that much closer to having this realism."