As live-action adaptations of comic book properties are currently dominating the media landscape, it’s easy to forget that there are a number of interesting video game movies in development as well. Despite the stigma attached to such films – with the quality of past video game-based movies lending credence to the involuntary cringe at the very mention of them – we’ve broken down how the future of video game adaptations could be bright.
Despite that potential, this year’s Need For Speed proved underwhelming, and many of the most promising projects (BioShock, Uncharted) are still in development or have been delayed. Meanwhile, we learned about a year ago that Warner Bros. was looking to adapt the popular “open world” game Minecraft with Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy apparently tapped to direct.
Well, Levy was indeed involved, but while making the press rounds in advance of the upcoming Night at the Museum: Secrets of the Tomb, Levy spoke with The Wall Street Journal‘s online outlet WSJ Cafe about why he ended up leaving the Minecraft adaptation and what his approach to the film would’ve been. Watch the full video above.
For anyone unfamiliar with Minecraft, it’s a game with a unique, lo-fi look and feel, wherein players have to use 3D cubes representing various elements (stone, dirt, sand, etc.) to construct anything from shelter to weapons; players will also have additional difficulties like the weather to deal with, even as monsters called “creepers” attack once night falls.
Levy provided an overview of how he got involved, saying that:
What happened, simply, is Warners asked me to develop, kind of, how could this ever be a story for a movie? Because it’s not a narrative game. And we came up with an approach that felt good to us, and I discussed it with Mojang, the game-makers who make Minecraft and they’re like, that doesn’t sound like what we want for – if we see a movie get made – we don’t know what we want but that doesn’t feel right. So I said okay, well, that feels like – that’s a movie I can envision, and so I’m not sure what happens next.
Levy went on to share that he has four movies he’s working on for 2015 and that the Minecraft film “wasn’t a right fit narratively, and so I’ve got to kind of focus on the other ones.” When asked to elaborate on what his take for such a tricky property could have been, Levy replied:
It wasn’t a comedy… I guess it had a bit of a Goonies flair, like kind of a – I’m not even allowed to speak of it as much as I have but, it was an adventure movie. And I thought it could have been a lot of fun, and fulfilled a lot of the qualities that people love about the game, but you know what, it’s not my game. They know what they’re doing and the truth is there is a long history of trying to make great movies out of games and they’re rarely done well. And so I think Mojang is still figuring out what they want. We gave it a shot and it wasn’t the right fit and these things happen.
Levy’s comments reflect the differences between adapting a comic book property and a video game – with major players DC and Marvel, the big Hollywood studios have folded those companies into their own. Game companies like Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed) are developing their IPs internally, and it sounds like Warner Bros. has promising Minecraft‘s Mojang AB a great deal of creative control.
Still, a Minecraft movie with a Goonies feel actually sounds like something many people – gamers or not – might have been interested to see. The completely open, non-story nature of Minecraft really does allow for countless interpretations. There’s no way to guess what Mojang has in mind, but it wasn’t a presumably broad, 1980s-type adventure film.
Minecraft is still in development, with no official release date.