Hollywood studios regularly turn blockbuster films into video games in a bid to cash in on their popularity. There have been more than 100 Star Wars games over the years, while successful franchises like Batman, Avengers and Lord of the Rings have spawned plenty of games.
Yet sometimes the trend is reversed and Hollywood execs find them raiding the video gaming industry for inspiration. These are the top video games that have made the transition to the silver screen:
Event Horizon director Paul Anderson was dazzled by the brilliance of the Resident Evil series and decided to adapt it into a film. His 2002 effort starred Milla Jovovich as an original character called Alice, who awakes in a deserted mansion in Raccoon City with temporary amnesia. She then teams up with a bunch of Umbrella Corporation commandos in an attempt to contain the outbreak of a deadly virus.
Anderson wrote an original screenplay designed to serve as a prequel to the first game in the Resident Evil sequence. It received mixed reviews, but legendary filmmaker James Cameron named it his biggest guilty pleasure and it grossed more than $100 million worldwide. That was enough to secure five sequels, all of which starred Jovovich in the lead role.
Super Mario Bros.
Turning the most famous video game of all time into a movie sounds like a daunting challenge, but husband-and-wife team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel accepted it with relish. They managed to attract an all-star cast, including Academy Award nominees Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper, who played the titular hero and the archvillain respectively.
John Leguizamo signed on as Luigi, while Samantha Mathis played Princess Daisy. All the right ingredients were there, but Super Mario Bros. bombed at the box office. The world’s most famous critics, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, panned the film and eventually named it one of the worst of the year. Despite its poor commercial performance, Super Mario Bros. retains a solid cult following and a reboot is currently in the works.
Street Fighter is one of the greatest games of all time. It features dazzling mechanics and thrilling action, but its greatest strength is the characters. That has helped it remain one of the world’s most popular franchises and if you take a look at the latest esports betting markets you will see that it is still massive in the competitive gaming arena.
Bringing those iconic characters to life on the big screen was a huge challenge. In the end, the studio decided it needed a couple of big stars to anchor the project, so it blew the budget on Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. The Muscles from Brussels was as ridiculous as ever, but Julia gave a magnificent performance.
He only agreed to take the part because his children were fans of the games, and his nuanced portrayal of M. Bison served to expose just how bad the rest of the actors were. There was not much money left over to fill the rest of the cast, so the team cobbled together a bunch of unknowns, while inexplicable casting Kylie Minogue as a bazooka-toting assistant to Van Damme’s Guile.
The film is a riot, packed full of over-the-top performances and hilarious fight sequences. It made almost $100 million at the box office, but there was no sequel.
This was the most ambitious video game adaptation ever attempted. A stellar cast including Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brandon Gellson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams – all critically lauded stars – was secured, while Justin Kurzel went straight from directing Macbeth to helming this project.
The game series has legions of fans and producers were confident in the film’s potential, so they stumped up a budget of $125 million. However, it was met with generally poor reviews. The general consensus stated that it was better made and better cast than most video game adaptations, but that the result is a CGI-fuelled, joylessly over-plotted slog.
It made $240 million worldwide, but it is estimated that the studio lost $80 million after expenses were factored in. A planned sequel was cancelled.
Tomb Raider was the movie that catapulted Angelina Jolie to superstardom. It was launched just after the first video game in the supremely popular series hit shelves, and fans were excited to see adventurer Lara Croft brought to life on the big screen.
Jolie did not disappoint, giving a magnetic performance after beating A-listers such as Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Demi Moore and Denise Richards to the role.
Critics generally disliked the film and savaged its senseless plot, but it was a tremendous success at the box office, where it grossed around $275 million worldwide. A 2018 reboot featured Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, and it also proved successful.
This adaptation of the popular fighting game was Anderson’s first big hit. The plot is bizarre, the acting is often dreadful and the dialogue is frequently preposterous, but it is still a fun way to pass 101 minutes. The otherworldly setting is intriguing, there are some great fight sequences and the soundtrack is absolutely banging.
It also features Christopher Lambert as the god that guides the trio of fighters on their journey towards taking down the evil sorcerer, Shang Tsung, and he brightens every scene he appears in. A sequel was released two years later, with the same characters almost entirely recast, and it bombed. However, a reboot will be unveiled in 2021.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Fans of the amorphous blue hedgehog and his pals will be in for a treat when a film adaptation is released on Valentine’s Day. It does not sound like the most romantic of movies – Sonic is hunted down by the tyrannical Dr Roboknik after landing in Montana – but it is sure to prove popular.
The studio pulled off a significant coup in persuading Jim Carrey to take on the role of Dr Robotnik, while James Marden will take a leading part and Ben Schwartz has voiced Sonic. Fans responded well to the tone and humour in the trailer, while a redesigned Sonic has also garnered praise after the initial design was judged to be wide of the mark.