'Gears' turning to film at New Line


New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to award-winning video game "Gears of War," with writer Stuart Beattie attached to adapt the project and Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill Entertainment set to produce.

The game, developed by Epic Games, became an instant success when it debuted in November. It became the most popular game on the Xbox Live service, overtaking "Halo 2," and sold more than 3 million units worldwide in its first 10 weeks. It also has received numerous awards, including Gamespot's Game of the Year and the Interactive Achievement Awards' Overall Game of the Year.

Set on the planet Sera, the game thrusts players into a battle for survival between humans and a race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet known as the Locust Horde. Players assume identities of soldiers on Delta Squad as they fight to save the Sera's inhabitants.

Cliff Bleszinski, lead game designer for "Gears," worked with Beattie to define a treatment, with the aim of crafting a movie that will appeal to the game's fans and moviegoers.

While the track record for video adaptations is decidedly mixed, Bowen is hoping this one will be different.

"We're not going to do a to a lowest-common-denominator movie," he said. "We're going to attempt to elevate it. And we're starting off by having an A-list writer doing it."

Beattie first got involved one night while playing the game live.

"This New Line exec Jeff Katz dropped me a message in my Xbox Live account saying, 'If we bought the game you're playing right now, would you write it?' And this was back in December. It shows you how on-the-ball New Line was. I'm going to write off my Xbox Live this year, accouting-wise."

Beattie believes that if you tell a good story, audiences will respond, and he thinks the game's setting and scope will help in that respect.

"For me, it's a great, rich and unique world that I have never seen before, and it's a genre that has only been hinted at in films like 'Aliens,' " he said. "The epic sci-fi war movie has yet to be done, and that's what 'Gears' is."

Bleszinski will executive produce the film on behalf of Epic Games.

New Line execs Cale Boyter and Katz are overseeing for the studio.

Beattie, whose credits include "Collateral" and "30 Days of Night," recently signed with CAA. He continues to be repped by attorney Joan Vento-Hall.

Epic Games is repped by CAA.
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