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The Great Game [Movie] Crash of 2006
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 13, 2006   |   Episode 89 (Show Archive)  

   

Hey, wait a minute, wasn't Rayne supposed to be especially attractive??
Video game movies are becoming more and more common these days, it seems like there's a new example every couple of months. In those fleeting months between new game movies we are inundated with announcements about new movies, many of which based on your favorite game franchises. These are bad movies, most of them receiving terrible marks from critics and never becoming anything more than a "popcorn film" with big names and bad dialogue.

Of course, this is nothing new. Defunct Games (as well as nearly every other game website and magazine) has been complaining about these movies for years now. Most of us simply ignore them; we find a better movie to attend or play the newest game and do our best to ignore the television commercials. I'm reminded of this dance because last weekend Uwe Boll's newest

Looks like somebody did their shopping for vampire teeth down at the $1 Store!
movie, BloodRayne, was released and I had to cha cha cha around the fact that I had no interest in seeing it.

I've seen his other "work" and know that BloodRayne is about as much fun as drilling tiny little holes into your head. Judging by the reviews this is a movie with very little plot, bad acting, and silly dialogue. It's probably safe to say that BloodRayne's direction is on par with all of Uwe's other movies, which include House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. Stuck in the middle of Oscar season, there are entirely too many other great movies in the theaters to see instead of wasting your time with BloodRayne. Movie goers are bound to find some of the year's best movies at the theater right now; movies that are well worth the $10 you're spending. There is no reason anybody should have to sit through a video game movie right now.

I knew I wasn't going to waste my money on Uwe's masterpiece (despite him promising that it was a better movie), but I started to wonder why anybody else would. Who are these people? Why would

The only thing you'll want to draw after watching Uwe Boll's BloodRayne is your own blood!
they go and see this when they could see King Kong, Munich, or any of the other movies playing at your multiplex? Have movie goers become so used to going to bad movies that they'll just support anything?

Thankfully the answer is no. In it's opening weekend BloodRayne took in a paltry $1.5 million dollars. That's it, $1.5 million! Not only did it not break this week's top 10, but it barely hit the top 20! It's number 19, below everything from Woody Allen's Match Point to Rumor Has It, to Cheaper By the Dozen 2. And let's not even mention Narnia or Hostel ... I'll just put it this way, BloodRayne won't be getting a sequel any time soon.

All this must be especially painful to the movie's backers, who coughed up a reported $25 million to make the thing. And what's worse, there's nearly $22 million in full scale promotion. For those who are bad at math, that's $47 million, and all it could scrounge up is $1.5?


Oddly enough, Tara Reid's career wasn't damaged by a role in an Uwe Boll movie!
It was during my celebrating that I started to wonder why anybody would back these video game movies. It seems like most of them fail to see profit and are usually regarded by both movie goers and critics as being a major waste of time. What was the deal here? Why were these studios willing to give directors like Uwe Boll and Paul Anderson the money to piss on our favorite game franchises?

It's time to do some research, time to see just how profitable these movies really are; time see if I'm just imagining it (perhaps because I'm so jaded). I wanted to start with the guiltiest party, Uwe Boll. His last movie was Alone in the Dark which cost $20 million dollars to make. Unfortunately for everybody involved (including a now out-of-work Tara Reid) the movie only brought in $5 million. In case you're wondering, Alone in the Dark's opening weekend was $2.8 million. Still, that's better than BloodRayne.


You know it's a bad sign when Biff Naked is at your party!
And then there's House of the Dead, a movie so bad that it makes Gigli look like Citizen Kane. You know it's going to be bad when the movie is called House of the Dead and the movie doesn't really take place in a house. Worse yet, this is a movie that interjects video clips from the original House of the Dead game even though they look old and terribly outdated. Just when you think you've seen the stupidest thing you will ever see, House of the Dead manages to lower the bar even further. This really is one of the most painful movie experiences you can have, and I hoped nobody had to sit through it at the theater.

Despite my pure and undying hatred for House of the Dead, this was one movie that managed to make money. With a budget of only $7 million House of the Dead was a low budget affair, a where it wouldn't take much to turn a profit. 'House' opened with a hefty $5.7 million; from there it managed to go all the way up to $10 million. I had to wonder if this was

Maybe Doom's failure was its god-awful poster design?
the reason he was given a shot to direct Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, and a whole bunch of upcoming game movies.

But it's not just Uwe who is having trouble making back his money, Doom was set to take the box office by force, but was fragged early in its run. Despite it's cast of reckognizable faces, Doom opened with only $15.5 million, ultimately topping at $28 million. If those were the numbers for BloodRayne nobody would be complaining (and I wouldn't be writing this article); but this is Doom, one of the most popular game franchises of all time, a game that was (at one point) the standard for all first-person shooters. It's also a movie that cost $70 million to make! That is not what the studio was expecting, especially from a game with such a recognizable name.

Paul W.S. Anderson is another name that pops up a lot when we talk about video game movies. His theatrical version of Resident Evil is pretty bad ... not nearly as terrible as House of the Dead, but still a complete waste of film. 2002's Resident Evil opened to $17.7 million, which is only slightly better than Doom's $15.5 million. What Resident Evil had going for it was its low price tag, this is a movie that cost $32 million to make and managed to pull in $39 million. Perhaps that's why they greenlit

If zombies are slow and simple minded, then why is it that zombie dogs (like the kind found in the Resident Evil movie) are fast and cunning?
the sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Although it didn't win many critics over, the Resident Evil sequel did scare up $50.7 million, which isn't too shabby considering the movie's $43 million budget.

Resident Evil is a huge name, arguably bigger than Doom (and a lot more relevant in this era). Although these movies managed to pull in a profit, the $7 million just isn't as impressive as it could have been. Just look at the profits movie companies make when they make movies out of comic books, cartoons, and old TV shows. Video games is the fastest growing market right now, our industry makes more money than music, movies, and even sporting events. Resident Evil has a name that should pull people into the theater, no matter what its quality is.

When Lara Croft: Tomb Raider hit the theaters Paramount was ecstatic about the returns. Here was a movie that cost $80 million to make pulling in more than $130 million! It's opening alone was nearly $50 million, easily the biggest video game opening we've seen yet. With just a hot comodety on their hands, Paramount was quick to release a sequel, Tomb Raider: the Cradle of Life, with bigger effects and a larger budget. Unfortunately the sequel just didn't live up to expectations, smaller seemed to be the order of the day; a $20 million opening and only $65 million when all was said and done. Was the original's success just a fluke?


The Street Fighter movie was so pathetic that we choose to show you this unrelated picture instead!
But when it comes down to it, Tomb Raider and Resident Evil are really the exceptions to the rule. Most video game movies lose money, a whole lot of money. Wing Commander only made $11.6 million, coming up short of the $30 million budget. Street Fighter nearly made it's budget back, coming up with $33 million (only $2 million short). And Super Mario Bros. cost $42 million to make and didn't even get half that back in the box office. But it's Final Fantasy: the Spirit Within that hurts the most, despite getting some favorable reviews, it only made $32 million. This wouldn't be so bad if Final Fantasy was a low budget production, but this bad boy cost the company $137 million to produce, making it one of the costliest blunders in movie history.

The writing is on the wall Hollywood, most video game movies lose money

How long will it be until Uwe Boll tackles Lumines: the Movie?
for everybody involved. If they do make you money it's usually only a few million, rarely the big hit like you might expect from a movie based on a book or graphic novel. There is no reason to be so eager when buying up new franchises, most are going to get bad reviews and fail at the box office. Nobody wants them; not gamers, not fans of good cinema, and certainly not the people who are losing millions of dollars in the process. Leave our favorite games alone!

This year alone we can expect a dozen new movies based on games, including Silent Hill, Dead or Alive, and Spy Hunter. Other properties (like Halo, Tekken, and Splinter Cell) are already being worked on, which means we'll be dealing with these games for many years to come.

Of course, if I'm going to be completely fair to Hollywood I have to admit that not all of their money comes from ticket sales at the box office. Many films have a second life on home video, both with the rental market and DVD sales. Foreign releases are also good money makers, sometimes pushing a movie that looks like it's going to lose money right into the black. For some movies there is the marketing of other products, such as toys and comics. But all this will probably not be enough for movies like BloodRayne and Doom. When it comes right down to it most video game movies are more trouble than they are worth.
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