The French videogame publisher says it will produce its own films based on its most lucrative game franchises.
Everyone knows that movies made from videogame properties tend to suck (thanks Uwe Boll!) but Ubisoft refuses to let that get in the way of global domination. Successful handling of a game’s brand can be done in a film – think Prince of Persia with Jake Gyllenhaal – and Ubisoft wants to make sure that stays true for its most important franchises. Earlier this year, the French publisher announced that it was creating a movie production division unimaginatively called Ubisoft Motion Pictures and the new CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet confirmed to Variety that he is working on film adaptations for three major franchises – Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell – which have sold a combined 67 million copies worldwide. The new group is keen on getting help from American studios and talent, but Ubisoft wants to keep a tight rein on the productions.
“We want to keep ownership, retain control over the film content, and we’re open to work with studios on the development of our projects, and eventually collaborate on the pre-casting, pre-budget and script,” Baronnet said.
The timetable isn’t set in stone, but Baronnet hopes to begin production as early as 2012. “We will have a script ready by the end of the year,” he said. Of course, we don’t know which film he’s talking about having a script for, but that’s just quibbling.
Ubisoft’s marketing guy also clarified that the game publisher isn’t really interested in making movies full time, they just want to make sure the adaptations live up to the games. “Our strategy is not to diversify but to bolster the appeal of our franchises – that’s why we want to make sure our films will reflect the brands accurately and consolidate our fan base while expanding beyond the games’ primary target audience,” Jean de Rivieres said.
I respect Ubisoft for wanting to do their movies right. Too many times game companies have fallen into the trap of signing away movie rights without having any creative control or a way to back out if the movie just plain sucks. It would really hurt Ubisoft if, say, an Assassin’s Creed movie came out starring The Rock and Andrew Dice Clay. By starting its own executive branch to handle these negotiations, Ubisoft can stick with the business of making games.