Ubisoft Motion Pictures adapting Ghost Recon
It was announced in May of 2011 that Ubisoft Motion Pictures was going to be working on a film version of Ghost Recon along with the Assassin's Creed film, it was only recently that they confirmed there was also going to be a Splinter Cell film.
Confirmation of the Ghost Recon film comes from the Chief Executive of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, Jean-Julien Baronnet, who was the former head of movie director Luc Besson's EuropaCorp, and at the same time he reveals the approach the company are taking and why it can work where other videogame adaptations and studios have failed.
Jean-Julien Baronnet revealed that they are working on the Ghost Recon pitch to develop a film, something we knew that the company were working towards, and ties in nicely with the fact that they do not own the rights to the Tom Clancy story of Rainbow Six which would have made a great transition to screen from the novel. Instead they have their own version of the team who are newer and have an equally large and keen existing audience; it's just that they are fans of the videogame.
Videogames have proven harder to make into films. So far there seems to have been two main problems with videogame adaptations, the first is that Hollywood ignore the existing audience and developed story to develop something new and the second, which is similar, is that they don't give the original material the respect it requires and that means less money, less belief and less investment in making something that lives up to the desires of the existing fans as well as the cinematic audience. It seems that the studios believe the gaming audience are either dumb or just not important.
It seems bizarre to believe that a studio would have picked up the rights to Harry Potter, pushed away any involvement from the original author and then refashioned the story, ignoring the work already there and the existing fans, it's clear that wouldn't have worked, so why would they do it with products that have an equally and in some cases more extensively documented story and just as globally reaching audience as videogames?
The only real reason is that they can. They can by the rights to these products, push the games studios to the side and then create a film that's going to be cheap to make and return a decent profit even if it doesn't turn out to be the best film there is. They may try to pander to the videogame audience a little but they soon realise that they don't know that audience and they don't understand what really makes the core of the story behind the games, and so the film fails.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures are challenging that, bringing the talents of film production and development into the world of the game studios where the subject matter experts are, the people who know what makes the story work and who the audience are.
The article in the L.A. Times points out that Jean-Julien Baronnet has been involved in a number of deals with Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures that have failed because of, so the article claims, his demands for more creative control and financial involvement. While it might sound like an egotistical and overly demanding requirement, the projects that have gone before and the massive book adaptations that have succeeded show that it is indeed the right thing to do.
Baronnet talks of why they need to be so involved:
"With so much at stake, it's important we don't give up the DNA of the game, the fundamental pillars...We don't want to make an average movie...We want to make a movie that will serve the brand and make happy the gamers and also the non-gamers. I think it has never been done before, but we can build this bridge."
I think it has actually; people always seem to forget Lara Croft: Tomb Raider which I think did a great job on both counts and to a lesser degree Hitman (Filmstalker review). Still this looks like it's going to be the first project where there's a real partnership between the games production company and the film studio.
Their partnership is with New Regency and there's a deal there that makes sure the studio can't make off and deliver a cheap sequel with Ubisoft Motion Pictures having rights to be involved creatively and financially in a sequel. New Regency seem more than happy with it and they understand why as their Chief Executive Brad Weston said.
"Ubisoft did something very intelligent in bringing people from the film industry who speak the same language that we do...We're working in partnership versus [the more standard method of] us doing the work and then turning it in for approval."
It looks like they might have made the deal that's going to make three strong films that can stand in their own light, Assassin's Creed with Michael Fassbender, Splinter Cell with Tom Hardy and Ghost Recon with, well we don't know as yet but you can guarantee it'll be an interesting cast list.