By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 12, 2011 at 2:58AM
With a number of high-profile pictures based on established properties flopping last summer -- "The A-Team," "Prince of Persia" and "Marmaduke" -- contrasted with the success of the relatively fresh "Inception," whispers started to circulate that studio heads were desperately seeking original material. Even James Cameron recently criticized the 'story crisis' in Hollywood, targeting Universal's big 2012 hope "Battleship," based on the Hasbro board game. Was a sea change coming? Was the trend of optioning every comic book, failed TV series and video game into big-screen entertainment finally coming to an end?
Don't be daft. That bastion of lazy programming, 20th Century Fox, have set up an adaptation of the classic video game "Missile Command" with the game's creators Atari, and set "Flash Gordon" and "Dracula: Year Zero" writers Burk Sharpless and Dylan Clark to write the script. Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark will produce.
If you've forgotten the original 1980 game or weren't born when it was created, you can remind yourself of its thrills over at Atari's website. With a gripping plotline involving shooting dots from the sky, it's clearly the perfect choice of video game to adapt to add to a burgeoning sub-genre that already includes stone-cold classics like "Super Mario Brothers," "Mortal Kombat," two "Street Fighter" movies and the aforementioned "Prince of Persia," all of which set the box office alight.
At moments like these, the only consolation we can hold on to is that if anyone is stupid enough to greenlight the film (and it's probably unlikely), they're likely to be fired within weeks of the picture's underwhelming opening weekend; if 2010 proved anything with the below-expectations grosses for "The A-Team" and even "Tron: Legacy," it's that this kind of nostalgia-fuelled property means next-to-nothing to modern day audiences.
By all means, make movies of "Assassin's Creed" or "Bioshock," which at least create worlds and tell stories that feel slightly fresh. But there's nothing to "Missile Command" beyond brand recognition, and there's no chance that that's going to bring in the crucial demographic needed for a would-be tentpole like this. With "Battleship" already a punchline, nearly 18 months from its release, you would think that someone along the way would have noticed, but apparently not. Creative bankruptcy for the win! [Variety]