We hope you've seen it by now, but an excellent GQ article by Mark Harris, author of the outstanding "Scenes From A Revolution" started to make the rounds in the last week or so. Entitled "The Day The Movies Died," it traces the current sad, sequel-happy nature of Hollywood filmmaking, and why the $800 million success of "Inception," and the more minor box office triumphs of "True Grit," "Black Swan," "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter," don't mean that movies based on board games or prequels to forgotten 7'0s cartoon series are going away any time soon (you can read more of our thoughts on that piece here).
Almost as if to prove Harris' point, along came "Dead Island." A videogame set for release later in the year, from Polish developers Techland, about four strangers trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in a holiday resort, it sprang into the public consciousness last week when an announcement trailer, from Scottish animation studio Axis Animation, went viral. Showing, backwards, the zombification and death of a young girl on the island, breathless geeks lost their shit when they saw it, with one journalist at Wired calling it "the best videogame trailer I've ever seen."
It didn't take long for news of a potential movie to hit, and it came first from HitFix, who reported that Sean Daniel, the producer of "The Mummy" and "The Wolfman," had picked up the rights to the project, which was later confirmed by Deadline, who suggested that The Sean Daniels Company, along with Union Entertainment, have held the rights for over a year, and that the film might borrow the narrative structure of the trailer, with a '"Memento"-style storyline.'
Except that publishers Deep Silver issued a press release, as found by Cinema Blend, among others, that says that, while the company are fielding film offers, no firm deal has yet been made, and that "We are looking for quality above all else for a movie based on 'Dead Island.' We want to do it the right way as film realizations of games (or vice versa) usually fail to deliver what the fans were looking for. We will not go down this route with 'Dead Island.' Deep Silver profoundly believes in the quality and value of its Dead Island IP."
We're not sure what's going on, exactly -- it seems possible that someone, somewhere jumped the gun a bit, or that Deep Silver are playing a tricksy game in negotiations. Frankly, the more hurdles caused in the development process for this one the better, as far as we're concerned. The clip that caused all the fuss is certainly a step above most video game trailers (and we wouldn't be surprised to see its director, Stuart Aitken, start to make some waves soon), but it's also crassly manipulative, and doesn't suggest that the game will be anything other than your standard zombie-bashing fare.
We've said it til we're blue in the face, but as long as video games continue to be, on the whole, grossly derivative of movies, than we're not going to care about movies based on games -- it's a snake-eating-its-own-tail approach that isn't going to make for good movies, and, should "Dead Island" make it to the big screen, we can't see how it would differ beyond any other zombie movie, aside from a narrative gimmick that almost certainly won't work as well in a two hour movie as it did in a two minute trailer. Still, probably better than a "Missile Command" movie, we suppose...