In an era where Hollywood favors continuity over one-off projects, intellectual property has turned from a commodity to a necessity.
The ease of marketing streamlined success stories, like Disney’s fabled procurement of Marvel and Lucasfilm and Warner Bros. Discovery with DC, makes production predictable.
Viewers revel in plots buried in star blasters, interdimensional travel, and family-friendly quips, channeled through a diverse array of hero-to-heroine representation. These standards are now the lifeline for modern entertainment, but as with anything that drifts from moderation, dominant styles can turn to overused artforms. The industry now faced with a need for rebirth, a new genre is starting to steal the spotlight.
Video games, a storytelling medium that surpassed the film business in sales almost 10 years ago, look to fuse alongside its competitor amidst its recent box office successes and mainstream approval.
Breaking the record for the opening of an animated film, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" grossed a record $377 million within five days, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Produced by notable animation studio Illumination Entertainment, which also produced "Despicable Me," "The Secret Life of Pets," and "Sing," and featuring a celebrated voice cast that includes the talents of Christ Pratt, Jack Black, and Anya Taylor-Joy, to name a few, industry support is evident.
On the television front, HBO’s production of “The Last of Us—an adaptation of the 2013 action-adventure game of the same name—captivated audiences for nine weeks. An article in Variety posted viewership totals as high as 8.2 million for its final episode. This is a 3.5 million increase from those that tuned in for its pilot episode, which stood at 4.7 million viewers.
Led by its forefather, Neil Druckman, co-creator of the original game, and the talent of Craig Mazin, known for his work on the 2019 series “Chernobyl,” two titans of storytelling were placed side by side. A project ripe for serialization, following a somewhat episodic nature in its original medium, “The Last of Us” knew what it wanted to be and how it was going to get there.
In Nintendo’s case, it took a box office flop and decades’ worth of recovery to find Mario’s way back to the big screen. Released in 1993, “Super Mario Bros.” was a live-action rendition of the joystick icon that opened to a commercial bust. It grossed a meager $38 million during its run in theaters.
One of the gaming communities’ first forays into motion pictures, it would take years before this turn to the cinema would prove effective, with many pointing toward the year 2020 as the first sign of change.
Released on February 14, Paramount’s "Sonic the Hedgehog" was one of the last box-office hits before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In adhering to its more pixel-oriented elements, the film placed an animated anthropomorphic hedgehog within a real-world setting. This is a move that had previously been undertaken by commercial hits such as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Space Jam."
Much like its predecessors, the film would perform notably at the box office, earning $319.7 million worldwide during its time in theaters Its grossing successes tripled its budget cost and ultimately served as one of the first examples of a proper video game film.
Now, as Nintendo had three decades to etch out Mario’s return to the cinemas and prove that an adaptation was possible, the movie searched for its style.
Rather than make a hyper-realistic version of the mushroom kingdom, animation allowed the beloved character to be seen exactly how he was. No visual accommodation was necessary.
As the film moves forward, it is projected to set further records for the animation industry. Furthermore, advancing on the capital made available by Mario could lead to eventual spin-offs and sequels.
All this isn’t to say that the superhero escapades the world has come to love won’t still find mainstream relevance. It’s just that some room may have to be made for video game properties.
A “Five Nights at Freddy’s” adaptation set to release in October, a return to the Sonic universe in December of next year, and HBO’s green-lighting of a second and potential third season of “The Last of Us” are just a few of these upcoming projects that beget space in the media stream.
Whether the gaming community continues to triumph on the big screen will depend on both sides of this meshing of mediums. The movies must provide an accurate visual aesthetic, while the games must adapt their stories to fit into a standard film format
Both asking much of the other party, these steps could, with time, become the pillars of modern entertainment, showcasing the new era of storytelling. That is until a new genre comes in yet again to steal the spotlight.
Source Photo: Alamy/Universal Pictures
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